RESIDENTS are being reassured over the quality of water in Portland and the surrounding area after the Bibby Stockholm was evacuated.
A total of 39 asylum seekers were removed from the barge after Legionella bacteria was discovered in the vessel’s water system.
Portland Port have said the bacteria was found in ‘environmental samples’ but moved to reassure those living nearby.
“For your reassurance, tests of the water at point of entry to the vessel have shown no indication of Legionella,” a statement said.
The Home Office said: “The health and welfare of individuals on the vessel is our utmost priority. Environmental samples from the water system on the Bibby Stockholm have shown levels of Legionella bacteria which require further investigation.
“Following these results, the Home Office has been working closely with UKHSA and following its advice in line with long established public health processes, and ensuring all protocol from Dorset Council’s Environmental Health team and Dorset NHS is adhered to.
“As a precautionary measure, all 39 asylum seekers who arrived on the vessel this week are being disembarked while further assessments are undertaken.
“No individuals on board have presented with symptoms of Legionnaires’, and asylum seekers are being provided with appropriate advice and support.
“The samples taken relate only to the water system on the vessel itself and therefore carry no direct risk indication for the wider community of Portland nor do they relate to fresh water entering the vessel. Legionnaires’ disease does not spread from person to person.”
The discovery has brought fresh crticism of the controversial plan to house asylum seekers on the Bibby Stockholm, which was intended to be a deterrent to further people making the dangerous Channel crossing on small boats.
However, this week has seen the total number of people crossing the Channel in the last five years hit 100,000, with 755 making the trip on Thursday (August 10) alone.
Former Brexit Secretary David Davis (Con, Haltemprice and Howden) told Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s really, really hard to understand how, at all layers, this could not be caught early.
“The primary thing that’s been revealed has been the startling incompetence of the Home Office itself.
“Rather famously many years ago, John Reid, when he took over as Home Secretary, talked about it being not fit for purpose, and I’m afraid you’re seeing that here.”