How cooling towers work

Wet cooling systems (cooling towers and evaporative condensers) have been associated with outbreaks of Legionnaires Disease in recent years. Legionnaires disease is a serious type of pneumonia which can in some cases be fatal.

It is caused by a type of bacteria known as legionella pneumophila which can be present in water. Normally it does not cause a problem but it can multiply under certain conditions such as if water is kept stagnant for a period of time and the temperature is between 20° and 40°​ celsius.

Cooling towers can use large quantities of water to take away heat generated by industrial processes or air conditioning systems. The water which takes away the heat evaporates into tiny droplets called aerosols which are the released from the top of the cooling tower into the atmosphere. 

If the aerosols contain legionellae bacteria then people could become ill by breathing in the aerosols. Cooling towers do not cause any problems if they are properly cleaned and maintained and the water is treated to kill the bacteria.

Further information on legionnaires disease can be found on the Health and Safety Executive website.

Cooling towers in premises where the council is responsible for enforcement of health and safety are inspected on an annual basis to ensure that they are being maintained in a safe condition and are not a risk to public health. Other premises such as factories, hospitals or council buildings which have cooling towers come under the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) for enforcement.

Cooling tower register for Brighton & Hove

The council keeps a register of all cooling towers and wet cooling systems in its area. The register for Brighton & Hove is detailed in the tables below. If you have any queries regarding legionnaires disease or cooling towers please contact the Health and Safety Team.

Cooling towers enforced by Brighton & Hove City Council

Name Address Number Status
Nile House   Nile Street, Brighton BN1 1PH                   2 Operational
Ovest House 58 West Street, Brighton 1 Operational
Brake Bros Crowhurst Rd, Hollinbury, Brighton, BN1 8AF 1 Operational
American Express Amex House, Edward Street, Brighton, BN2 2LP 1 Operational
American Express 1 John Street, Brighton, BN88 1NH 5 Operational

Cooling towers enforced by the Health and Safety Executive

Name Address Number Status
Pensions Regulator Napier House, Trafalgar Place, Brighton, BN1 4EB 1 Operational
Brighton Centre Kings Road, Brighton BN1 2GR    2 Operational

Duty to notify 'wet cooling systems'

Anyone who has control of a premises in the city has a duty (under the Notification of Cooling Towers and Evaporative Condensers Regulations 1992) to notify the council in writing with details of cooling towers and evaporative condensers. There is an exception for cooling towers and condensers that contain water that is not exposed to the air and the water and electricity supply are not connected.

Devices which become redundant and are decommissioned or dismantled, must also be notified.

Registration form for the Notification of Cooling Towers and Evaporative Condensers Regulations 1992 (PDF 27KB)

Contact the team

For more information about health and safety contact the Health and Safety Team: