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Chlorine injectors added to VA Pittsburgh facilities to prevent Legionnaires'

| Thursday, April 10, 2014, 5:24 p.m.

Workers shut down the water systems at Veterans Affairs hospitals in Oakland and O'Hara on Sunday and Monday to install chlorine injectors on cold water lines, a VA spokesman confirmed Thursday.

Workers also hyperchlorinated the Oakland hospital's water to eliminate “blue-white” Legionella, a strain that does not cause disease but is eliminated anyway under stricter guidelines the VA Pittsburgh adopted after a Legionnaires' disease outbreak that led to at least six veterans' deaths and sickened others between February 2011 and November 2012. The VA and the Justice Department recently announced a settlement with families of three deceased veterans and two others who survived the pneumonia-like disease.

Installation of the chlorine injectors continues more than a years' worth of upgrades to the facilities' water systems. The chlorine injectors, which replace a copper-silver ionization system, is expected to allow the hospitals to maintain proper levels of disinfectant in the water while minimizing damage to the pipes, VA spokesman Mark Ray said. He confirmed the installation in response to a Tribune-Review inquiry.

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