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New Mandatory Cooling Tower Registration Adopted By NYC For Building Owners

August 25, 2015

In the wake of the recent Legionnaires' disease outbreak in the Bronx, the City of New York has adopted amendments to the Administrative Code requiring the registration of all cooling towers with the Department of Buildings (DOB). Any clients who own or operate buildings in the City should address this matter to ensure compliance with fast approaching deadlines and avoid the assessment of penalties in code enforcement proceedings.

What is a cooling tower?

Section 28-317.2 of the Administrative Code defines a "cooling tower" as a "cooling tower, evaporative condenser or fluid cooler that is part of a recirculated water system incorporated into a building's cooling, industrial process, refrigeration, or energy production system."

Who is responsible to register a cooling tower?

Building owners are required to register cooling towers.

How do you register a cooling tower?

Building owners should visit the DOB website and follow the Cooling Tower Registration link. You will be asked to provide contact identification information as well as information regarding the locations and individual devices to be registered, including item manufacturer/trade name, serial number, and capacity.

Must all cooling towers be registered?

Yes, registration is mandatory.

Is there a deadline for registration?

Yes, registration of all existing cooling towers must be completed by September 17, 2015. New cooling towers must be registered with DOB prior to their use.

Once a cooling tower is registered, are there additional compliance requirements that must be met?

Yes there are additional on-going requirements:

  • Owners must file an annual certification confirming compliance with Section 28-317.5 of the Administrative Code that cooling towers have been inspected, tested, cleaned and disinfected consistent with the applicable Department of Health and Mental Hygiene regulations (found in Administrative Code Section 17-194.1) requiring inspection and testing of cooling towers every three months while such towers are in use.
  • Owners must institute a plan for the maintenance of cooling towers developed by a qualified person pursuant to the standards adopted by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers.
  • In the event that a test discloses a maintenance deficiency requiring mitigation, owners must notify the Health Department and have the tower cleaned and disinfected in accordance with the Code requirements.
  • Cooling towers that are subject to extended shut-down for more than five (5) days must be cleaned and disinfected within fifteen (15) days before the use of such tower.
  • Owners may also show compliance with the prior Health Department order requiring inspection and remediation of cooling systems by uploading documentation to the cooling tower tracker portal on the DOB website.

What happens upon the discontinuance of use of a cooling tower?

If a cooling tower is removed or its use is permanently discontinued, the owner/operator must notify DOB within thirty (30) days and certify that the cooling tower was drained and sanitized in compliance with Health Department requirements.

What are the potential penalties for non-compliance?

Failure to register, provide necessary certifications or report discontinued use may be subject to a penalty of up to $10,000 (such penalty amounts currently pending formal adoption of Rule amendment).

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