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‘No One Harmed’ After Legionella Discovery on Bibby Stockholm Barge

‘No One Harmed’ After Legionella Discovery on Bibby Stockholm Barge
15 August 2023 | Updated 17 August 2023

Health Secretary Steve Barclay has told the BBC’s Today programme that "no one has been harmed" after the presence of Legionella bacteria was confirmed on the Bibby Stockholm barge.

The barge is intended to act as accommodation for up to 500 single adult male asylum seekers whilst they await the outcome of asylum claims.

On Tuesday 8 August, the first group of migrants boarded the vessel, which is moored at Portland Port in Dorset.All 39 people were evacuated from the barge on 12 August as “a precaution” after the Legionella discovery. 

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe pneumonia caused by the inhalation of small droplets of water in the air that contain the Legionella bacteria. The bacteria is common in natural water sources in low numbers, but they can be found in purpose-built water systems where water is maintained at a temperature high enough to encourage growth.

Travel solutions provider Corporate Travel Management (CTM) are responsible for managing the services on the barge.


When Was the Legionella Discovered on Bibby Stockholm?


In his BBC Radio 4 Today programme interview, Steve Barclay said that government ministers were only informed of the situation on the evening of Thursday 10 August. The BBC reports that the issue was first raised on Monday 7 August, when Dorset Council received results of water samples from the barge and informed contractors CTM that Legionella had been detected.

A government source told the BBC that the Home Office was “verbally” told about the water sample results on Tuesday 8 August. A senior Home Office source added that the person notified was a "junior" member of staff who happened to be on a call with contractors.

The next day, the Home Office was officially notified. On Thursday 10 August, The UK Health Security Agency, the Home Office, Dorset Council and the NHS met, with plans to evacuate revealed the following day on Friday 11 August.


Was the Bibby Stockholm Correctly Inspected Before Asylum Seekers Were Allowed to Board?


According to the Home Office, the Bibby Stockholm was inspected prior to accommodating the asylum seekers, subject to Lloyd’s Register quality assurance inspection and certification and regulatory inspection by the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

An official government document states that the welfare of those in their care is “of the utmost priority” with statutory inspections and fire safety checks completed before asylum seekers moved onsite.

Picture: a graphic showing a close up of microscopic Legionella pneumophila bacteria Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 15 August 2023


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