Waterford firms object to waste transfer facility


TWO MAJOR employers in Waterford have added their voices to objections over a proposed waste transfer facility in the city.

Genzyme, the biopharma business of Sanofi and eyecare group Bausch Lomb, have both raised concerns about the plan by Oxigen Environmental to site the waste transfer station and a recycling bring centre alongside several high-technology and food businesses in the former Ross Mart building on the Old Kilmeaden Road.

“Our concern is that the close proximity of the site . . . will leave our large site vulnerable to airborne and other pollutants from this waste segregation and transfer facility,” Kevin Meehan, director of engineering at Bausch Lomb (Ireland), states in the company’s submission on the project. Bausch Lomb has its principal contact lens manufacturing business in Waterford, where it employs 1,200 people.

Noting the highly regulated, monitored and audited sterile manufacturing environment in which it operates, Mr Meehan said it was vital the US business “continues to be fully compliant with the high air and water quality required for our processes”.

“Any [pollution] impact will have adverse consequences for our operations, which are of significant social and economic value to Waterford and the southeast,” he adds, urging rejection of the plan.

Genzyme Ireland director Bill Murphy said local businesses recognised the need for a waste segregation facility but that the siting of it close to the biopharmaceuticals plant was “a grave concern”.

Genzyme has recently competed a $150 million (€119 million) extension to its Waterford operation, adding a second biologics fill and finish plant, for which it secured regulatory approval in the US and Europe in May.

In the company’s objection to the plan, Mr Murphy says the prevailing wind would carry “fugitive odours” from the Oxigen plant towards the Genzyme factory.

“The nature of our business requires good air quality to protect the product and any strong odours will have an adverse impact on our product.”

The company’s Waterford plant, which has been operating for a decade, is one of the company’s centres of excellence in manufacturing and employs more than 500 people.

EirGen Pharma, a local pharma group making highly potent medicines for cancer therapy, has already warned that approval for the Oxigen plant could damage its business.

Managing director Patsy Carney said “the very viability of the company would be threatened”. EirGen employs 65 people and has announced plans to increase this to 100 over the next 18 months following a €19 million investment earlier this year by a Saudi pharma business.

The objections are among 53 submissions from local businesses and individuals on the proposal.