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Fine for Legionnaires' Cider Firm

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Cider maker HP Bulmer and its water treatment contractor Nalco have each been fined £300,000 over a fatal outbreak of Legionnaires' disease. Two people died and more than 20 others fell ill in Hereford in 2003. The two firms had admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act. They were also ordered to pay more than £50,000 each in prosecution costs.

Nalco, based in Northwich, Cheshire, and HP Bulmer pleaded guilty last year to failing to ensure the safety of persons not in their employment. The sentencing hearing was told that legionella bacteria were found in two cooling towers following the deaths of an elderly man and a 56-year-old woman in the winter of 2003. Of the 28 identified cases, the age range of the victims was between 36 and 91 and 21 of the victims were men.

Nalco had failed to comply with its contractual obligations to Bulmer by failing to adequately clean the towers and had also carried out an inadequate risk assessment on behalf of the cider-maker. In a statement released after the hearing, a spokesman for HP Bulmer said it took its role in the community very seriously. He said it had worked closely with the Health and Safety Executive to trace and eliminate the source of the outbreak.

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