Drug firm objects to plans for waste plant

 

A PHARMACEUTICAL business in Waterford has said plans to site a waste transfer station next to it posed a “very real threat” to 65 jobs at the plant.

EirGen Pharma said the plan by Oxigen Environmental to occupy a former mart building less than 200m from its oncology drug plant risks contamination and the loss of regulatory approval for its operation.

Oxigen has applied to Waterford City Council for a change of use at the former Ross Mart building and site on the Old Kilmeaden Road to allow for a waste transfer station and recycling bring facility.

In a written objection to the proposal, EirGen cited the “profound negative impact of the development on our present and future business”.

EirGen was founded in 2005 by Patsy Carney and Tom Brennan. Supported by Enterprise Ireland, it started operation in Waterford in 2006. The company develops and manufactures high-potency drugs for the treatment of cancer and Mr Carney said it had involved an investment of €4.5 million to date.

It employs 65 people, according to Mr Carney, and announced plans in late June to increase this to 100 over the following 18 months as part of a significant expansion of the facility.

In April, the listed Saudi Pharmaceutical Industries and Medical Appliances (Spimaco) acquired a 48 per cent stake in the business for €19 million.

“The proximity of this proposed waste transfer facility to our premises poses a very real threat to the existing and future jobs at EirGen Pharma and to our planned expansion project,” Mr Carney said in the company’s objection, citing the risk to his company maintaining regulatory compliance “as the proposed facility is located less than 150 metres from our premises”.

EirGen cited the danger of pollution and contamination from dust, fumes and odours from the proposed Oxigen plant.

“If the air-handling system was subject to excessive dust from this proposed facility, our production and laboratory areas would be shut down as the air quality could not be maintained. All filters would have to be changed and the system completely re-qualified on each occasion. This would not be suitable from a business continuity perspective.”

“Odours from any Oxigen plant could potentially taint the product which would be rejected with significant financial impact on the company. If this were to continue, not only would future expansion of the facility and job growth be impacted but the very viability of the company would be threatened.”

Mr Carney said the company cannot simply relocate if problems arise as its address was part of the licensing process allowing it to operate as a pharmaceutical business. “We would have to begin the application process all over again,” Mr Carney said.