An environmental consulting company has determined the Register-Herald plant on North Kanawha Street, closed for the last two weeks, can be reoccupied immediately.
MSES Consultants Inc. of Clarksburg, W.Va., said it tested water samples from throughout the building, and none were found to contain legionella, the type of bacteria which spawns in water and can then become airborne to sometimes cause Legionnaires disease, a form of pneumonia.
Publisher Frank Wood closed the Register-Herald plant June 15 and called in MSES to test the building’s environment for legionella as a precautionary measure after algae was found in two air-conditioning units and doctors had previously diagnosed an employee with Legionnaires disease but had no notion of where the employee contracted it.
Based on numerous tests, the consultants said “MSES does not believe that a potential exists for legionella exposure of employees and visitors within the building.”
The consultants also concluded “in consideration of all the data collected by MSES during the assessment of the Beckley Register-Herald facility, MSES is of the opinion that the building can be immediately reoccupied.”
Wood said he was “thoroughly relieved and very thankful” the environmental consultants found that employees could return to the Register-Herald plant. He said they have been producing the paper and its related products from temporary offices set up at a former school building.
“We will now start the process of moving back in,” he said. “Everyone at the paper and in the community has been understanding of why we took this extraordinary precaution of closing the plant and conducting tests to make sure everything was all right.”