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Health clinic shut down after sewage pumped into water tank

Hamilton Health Clinic on Victoria Street (Photograph from Google Street View)

A government health clinic which was shut down after sewage from a neighbouring property was pumped into the building’s drinking water tank will not fully reopen this year.

The Hamilton Health Clinic, at 67 Victoria Street, closed down after the contamination was discovered in April and the majority of services moved to other locations.

There was no announcement on the sewage incident at the time but health minister Kim Wilson told a press conference last month that the clinic had “relocated its services temporarily” to the third floor of Reid Hall, 3 Reid Street.

A ministry spokesman confirmed the contamination this week in response to questions.

He told The Royal Gazette that “super chlorination” of the water supply to deal with the pollution caused a further problem with the pipes which would not be fixed for months.

The spokesman said: “A private firm working at the adjacent property inadvertently connected a sewage line to the centre's rainwater supply, which fed into its potable water tank.”

He added: “The Department [of Health] took immediate action to remove the risk as soon as the contamination was identified and closed the building.

“The plumbing was disconnected and special cameras confirmed there were no further incorrect connections.”

The spokesman said: “Regular sampling has been conducted weekly for testing since the incident and no further issues have arisen.”

He said work to deal with the contamination included changing all the centre's water filters, pumping the tank twice, scrubbing it with bleach, power washing it and rinsing it.

The spokesman said “super chlorination” of the piping infrastructure was also carried out.

“Super chlorination of the Hamilton Health Clinic water supply led to oxidation, rusting and discolouration of the water because the original galvanised pipes were adversely affected by the remedial works performed in April and May,” he added.

“Recommendations had been made in 2018 for the pipes to be replaced and that work is scheduled to start this month.”

Many services had to move elsewhere after the clinic shut: child health, sexual and reproductive health, communicable disease, immunisation and travel health, community health, oral health, adult preventative health, occupational and physical therapy, speech and language services, nutrition and the laboratory.

Oral health, therapy and stores services resumed operating at the building in September, according to the spokesman.

But he said all the other services would be at Reid Hall for about the next four to six months “while the water supply to the clinic is generally upgraded by the installation of a new supply pipe network and connection to a main piped water supply”.

He added: “Aspects of the required works are being determined and priced.”

The ministry spokesman would not identify the adjacent building where the sewage came from and did not respond to a question about whether that building’s owner was paying for any of the repairs or if taxpayers would foot the bill.

A map of the site on the Department of Land Valuation website shows 61 and 63 Victoria Street as adjacent.

Efforts by The Royal Gazette to track down the owners of those buildings have so far been unsuccessful.

The annual rental value of the third floor of Reid Hall is listed by Land Valuation as $167,000.

The clinic’s administrative services are operating from ministry headquarters in the Continental Building on Church Street.

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Published October 14, 2022 at 7:57 am (Updated October 14, 2022 at 7:57 am)

Health clinic shut down after sewage pumped into water tank

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