Inquiry after waste solvent falls from lorry

PHARMACEUTICAL giant Pfizer has launched an investigation into the loss of three potentially harmful solvent containers which fell from a vehicle transporting them for testing.

The company became aware of the loss last Tuesday when its waste disposal service provider Veolia confirmed that three sample bottles of waste solvent had fallen from one of its vehicles on the Ringaskiddy to Fermoy road.

A Pfizer spokeswoman said Veolia immediately conducted a search of the area, recovering one of the bottles and continued a search for the remaining two samples.

The 500 millilitre plastic bottles contained approximately 200-300 millilitres of a solvent mixture and were sealed with a tight screw-on cap.

They were clearly labelled as waste solvent and were due for testing.

Solvent mixtures may be flammable and harmful if ingested or come into contact with the skin.

The other two bottles were discovered by a man who spotted them on the Shannon Park roundabout near Carrigaline.

Ivan Archer contacted the Irish Examiner after finding the bottles, which were later retrieved by Veolia personnel.

“If the bottles had fallen into the hands of children there could have been a terrible tragedy. I’m very concerned that proper procedures weren’t followed, otherwise they wouldn’t have ended up on the roundabout,” Mr Archer said.

Veolia had notified the Environmental Protection Association, the Health & Safety Authority and Cork County Council of the incident.

“Safe disposal of hazardous material is a priority for Pfizer and we are initiating our own investigation of this incident, together with offering all our co-operation to the relevant authorities.

“We are very pleased to note that all three samples have now been recovered,” the Pfizer spokeswoman said.

Cllr Deirdre Forde, FG, was also contacted by Mr Archer and visited his home to view the chemicals.

“I am sure residents in the Carrigaline area will be very concerned that an incident like this has happened. I believe Pfizer has a good track record, so I trust something like this will never happen again. They must ensure there’s no repeat of this for the sake of safety of the population,” Ms Forde said.

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