At 11.50pm on Saturday 27th, a fire broke out at the RTP Company Plastic Factory in Beaune, France. Thankfully there were no casualties reported. The fire was difficult to fight and required the use of specialist foam cannons to put out due to the large amount of plastic that is kept onsite at RTP factories. Nearly 1000 sq metres of the plant was destroyed.
Significant resources were mobilized, including 50 firefighters, 5 fire-brigade engines and two fire ladders. A mobile command post had to be established to coordinate what was a long and dangerous 10 hour operation. Firefighters from the centers of Beaune, Meursault, Deux-Cotes, Seurre, Transvaal, Dijon Nord, Dijon East and Nuits-Saint-Georges were sent on this large-scale intervention.
Luckily, this factory is located beside one of France’s main motorways, the A6. Beaune is a small town, larger than Skibbereen, without it’s own resources to deal with this fire. Fire engines had to travel between 160KM and 15KM to get to the scene from surrounding towns.
At the start of our campaign, we were told by a local Councillor that a fire like this could never happen in Skibbereen. Our research has shown that fires at plastic factories are more common than you would think. The manufacturer of the production equipment that will be used at the proposed factory in Skibbereen warns constantly about the dangers involved in the thermoplastic production process. Due to the creation of clouds of toxic dust which are highly explosive and inflammable, fires like this are all too common around the world.
See video below for footage of fire at RTP, Beaune, taken by passerby in the early hours of Sunday, October 28th, 2018.
We have written about these dangers and repeat here again the most important points.
The greatest concerns for Emergency Responders, in particular Firefighters is the burning of plastics. Plastic fire flames spread at 2 feet per second which is 10 times faster than dry wood. Firefighters have to wear self contained breathing apparatus (S.C.B.A.s) as many of these highly toxic fumes are invisible even after the smoke and smell has cleared. When fires occur in these factories, burning Polyethylene melts. This smells like wax and produces dripping melting flaming material that spreads the fire more rapidly than in a typical industrial unit.
The Skibbereen plastics factory application does not currently include fire suppression measures (like using steel shutters and CO2) to prevent the spread of fire!! This system is in use in the likes of Irish Distillers.
The evacuation of residents locally and the Nursing Home and Retirement Village is a major concern as many of the residents at the home already have breathing difficulties and some are on oxygen, which is highly flammable.
As per the manufacturer of the processing equipment that will be used in this factory, the process is highly flammable, highly combustible and highly dangerous. In the UK alone, there are 6-10 Plastic Factory fires per year.
A huge problem is the amount of dust that is produced and this dust isn’t harmless!
Daly Products Limited consultants say that they will use a Vario Dry Separator.
“An explosive environment can be created depending on the character and composition of dusts” / “as many dusts are combustible and explosive“. – Keller Lufttechnik – Manufacturer of the Vario Dry Separator.
The above factors with dust, solvents, high temperatures make a plastics factory a dangerous environment to work in or live near, not to mention the emissions that the chimneys disperse.
If you have been assured by Daly Products Limited or any local Councillor, think again and look at this closely.
Is West Cork a suitable location for such a development?
Is it equipped to deal with a major Plastic Factory fire?
Who will pay for the damage to the environment caused by the run-off of waters after such a fire?
Who will pay for the evacuation of local residents and residents at the local nursing home and retirement village?
Emissions from the smoke when such a catastrophe occurs have dire consequences.
The air born pollutants of a fire from a Polymer Compounding Factory are a serious health hazard.
These pollutants include :
Heavy Metals, Dioxins, Furans and Polyaromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs).
Inorganic gases produced in plastic fires include:
Over 450 organic compounds have been determined in smoke fumes from plastic fires. Many of these are highly toxic, carcinogenic and have high potential to pollute the environment.
Source : NASA
We hope this never happens in Skibbereen or West Cork. To help us make that a reality and to stop this Plastic factory from ever being built, please support our ‘Save Our Skibbereen’ campaign.
More footage of the fire at RTP, Beaune.