LEGIONELLA bacteria was found in the water supplies of seven schools in Blaenau Gwent, resulting in several remaining closed or relocating lessons elsewhere.

The issue forced five schools in the borough which had planned to re-open last Monday, June 29, to stay closed.

A report going before the council’s ruling executive says there are “lessons to be learned” and that a review will now be carried out.

The report says Blaenau Gwent council took “a very pro-active and responsible approach” to re-opening schools, including over water testing.


Following the Welsh Government announcement on re-opening schools, a plan was set up to carry out testing, with final samples collected by June 18.

Seven days later, results showed three of the 29 schools had tested positive for legionella contamination – Blaen-y-Cwm Primary, Ystruth Primary and Brynmawr Foundation School.

The decision to keep the schools closed was agreed on Friday, June 26, and all three required “a full system chlorination”.

Discussions with the headteacher of Brynmawr Foundation School have led to an agreement to relocate portable hand washing units, provide bottled drinking water and provide temporary toilet facilities, allowing it to re-open this week.

Tredegar Comprehensive school also did not re-open as planned after tests showed bacteria levels were “above safe limits”.

A full system chlorination took place, and measures such as relocating portable hand washing units and bottled drinking water allowed it to re-open on June 30.

Willowtown School, in Ebbw Vale, did not re-open as planned on June 29 because a test result was still outstanding.

Contamination in the water supply has now been confirmed, and it was agreed to relocate its key worker childcare provision to Ebbw Vale Sports Centre from last Tuesday.

The school will partially re-open by using facilities at Ebbw Fawr Primary school for two days a week from this week.

Legionella bacteria was also found at the River Centre Learning Community in Pontygof, Brynmawr.

It has agreed to relocate school learning to the River Centre’s Thomas Richards Centre in Tredegar.

On Saturday, July 4, initial test results were also positive for legionella at Tredegar Comprehensive and Sofrydd Primary schools.

Tredegar Comprehensive can remain open as health and safety measures are already in place and a chlorination has already been carried out.

Legionella bacteria is “very low” at Sofrydd Primary School, and the outlets – a shower head and blended outlet – have been isolated and will be chlorinated.

Bottled drinking water has also been provided, and a hand-washing unit relocated to the school.

Welsh Government has been informed of the situation and has ordered checks on water testing across schools in Wales.

“The council has generated positive outcomes in delivering the level of school provision in such unprecedented circumstances,” a report says.

“However, there are lessons to be learned at a corporate and school level, therefore, a lessons learnt review will be conducted and the outcome will be reported to the executive and the appropriate scrutiny committees in due course.”

Blaenau Gwent MS, Alun Davies, said there now needs to be an independent inquiry into the issue.

"This shows the situation was worse than we thought and still raises far more questions than answers," he said.