Operations halted at pharmaceutical plant after discovery of potential explosives

Dec. 5, 2012

A pharmaceuticals factory in Wales has been closed following the discovery of potentially explosive chemicals on site.

FLINTSHIRE, Wales — A pharmaceuticals factory in Wales has been closed following the discovery of potentially explosive chemicals on site, the BBC has reported.

An investigation by Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Environment Agency Wales found significant amounts of Isosorbide Dinitrate (ISDN Pure) at the Euticals Limited factory in Sandycroft, Flintshire.

According to Colin Everett, Flintshire Council chief executive, operations at the drug manufacturing plant have been temporarily halted until laboratory analysis has been completed and a plan for the removal of the chemicals has been drawn up. Security measures have been put in place to ensure that there is no risk of an explosion.

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Everett added that Euticals is working closely with a number of institutions, including Flintshire County Council, the HSE and Environment Agency Wales, as well as with police, the fire department and health agencies, which are advising the company on its further actions. The HSE confirmed that an investigation is currently being conducted at the Euticals factory at Sandycroft but declined to reveal further details.

Euticals has been manufacturing ISDN for 35 years. In an interview for ITV News, Everett explained that the chemical had apparently built up at the site over a period of years. However, the plant is secured and locked down and the site operations are reduced to a minimum, so there is no risk of any shock to the substance, which could set off a chain reaction, he claimed.

Meanwhile, Flintshire Council has been delivering letters to up to 3,000 residents and businesses to provide them with information on various safety measures they might need to consider implementing, the BBC reported. The company itself is issuing a separate letter but has not commented on the case.

The investigation that led to the discovery was launched in relation to another incident at Euticals. In November, three men were admitted to hospital for treatment after a spill of an ingredient for a drug to treat angina at the factory. One of the operators was found unconscious by two of his colleagues, who took him to the emergency shower immediately. All three men were examined and discharged from hospital the following day.

This is not the first time the company has come under scrutiny. Earlier this year Euticals was fined £100,000 over safety breaches and in 2011 the company was issued with a HSE prohibition order after a leak of methyl iodide was detected. Methyl iodide is a toxic gas, used as a pesticide, that can cause respiratory problems, nausea, vomiting and dermatitis.