NEW YORK — Building owners have registered almost 5,000 cooling towers with the city in the wake of the Legionnaires' disease outbreak in the South Bronx that left 12 dead and sickened more than 120 people over the summer.
Owners were required to register their properties' cooling towers with the Department of Buildings by Thursday in accordance with legislation passed in response to the outbreak, and a total of 4,991 towers were registered in the agency's database by the end of the day, according to spokesman Alexander Schnell.
The DOB believes this number represents most of the city's cooling towers, but it will continue to inspect properties to make sure none have slipped through the cracks.
"At this time, the numbers appear to capture the majority of likely cooling towers in the city," Schnell said in an email. "DOB, along with various other agencies, will continue to do inspections and aerial assessments on buildings that likely have a cooling tower but have not registered."
The city has the authority to go into buildings with noncompliant owners and clean the cooling towers themselves, and penalties for not obeying the law include a $10,000 fine for any violation that leads to a serious injury or death.
Lawbreakers could face criminal penalties of a year in jail and a $25,000 fine as well.
The new legislation also requires water in cooling towers to be tested quarterly, and if the water tests positive for Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires' disease, the city must be notified, and an independent third party must clean and disinfect the towers.
The city declared an end to the outbreak on Aug. 20, although a resident of Melrose Houses came down with the illness afterwards that Mayor Bill de Blasio said could be linked to the summer's epidemic.