A Limerick company receiving shipments from West Africa has increased its safety measures in a bid to combat ebola.
Rusal Aughinish, the largest alumina refinery in Europe, regularly receives shipments of bauxite from Guinea — one of the three countries worst affected by the recent ebola outbreak.
Shipping the material from Guinea to Limerick takes around 10 days, according to the Shannon Foynes Port Company, while the incubation period for the ebola virus is 21 days.
The alumina plant, located near Askeaton, has assured the public it has implemented stringent measures to protect its staff and ship crews from contracting the virus.
In a statement, the company said it had been “monitoring” the situation in Guinea and, in particular, the Port Kamsar region where its raw material is shipped from.
They said: “We place the highest value on the health and safety of our employees, contractors and visitors. Our safety programmes and performance, our health facilities and our practices and procedures confirm this. In line with this, the response to the possible threat of the ebola virus has been timely, swift and comprehensive.”
Measures implemented include restrictions on staff at Guinea’s Port Kamsar — shore leave for ships’ crews is not permitted.
They said: “Ships’ crews do not go ashore and no physical contact takes place with any Port Kamsar personnel”.
In addition, the loading of ships is carried out mechanically.
Once the shipments reach port on the Shannon estuary, the vessel is required to complete a Maritime Declaration of Health Form as well as a health surveillance document before being allowed to dock.
The company said: “If either of these documents is not completed in advance or there is an ill person on board, the ship will not be allowed to dock without further investigation”.
Rusal Aughinish also revealed it is currently liaising with the HSE and the Government’s Task Force on Emergency Planning, including direct contact with Minister Simon Coveney.
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