Farm Ireland

Monday 24 October 2016

Carbery's ethanol plant to reopen in November

Published 27/09/2016 | 02:30

The fire at the roof of the plant
The fire at the roof of the plant

Carbery's large ethanol distillation plant at Ballineen in west Cork is expected to be up and running again within six to eight weeks, according to management.

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The 90ft tall facility threatened to become a fireball three weeks ago when a blaze erupted on the roof. However, the fire was contained within an hour, preventing the accident turning into a major incident.

As investigations into what caused the fire continue, attentions are focusing on the possibility of alcohol having leaked on to light-fittings installed on the building's top level.

Management dismissed the possibility of the damage spurring a major revamp on either the facility or system of production at the plant.

"We don't expect it to cost more than €1-2m to fix up, and there's too much investment tied up in that unit to be thinking of walking away from it," said Carbery's commercial manager JJ Walsh.

Despite the unit requiring minimal investment and upgrading over the years, Mr Walsh said that the non-return valves, where excess alcohol is burnt off, had performed "remarkably well" and possibly saved the entire plant.


Mr Walsh added that they had been fortunate in the timing of the incident, when the plant was processing a fraction of what it handles during the peak milk production months of May and June.

"If it had happened at peak, no other processor would have been able to accommodate us, so we were lucky," he said.

The plant is one of Ireland's largest cheese factories, producing one third of the country's cheddar, including the Dubliner brand.

It processes all of the milk from the four west Cork co-ops, Bandon, Drinagh, Lisavaird and Barryroe.

Milk price

While Mr Walsh was careful not to be drawn on milk price, he said that he was confident that there would be no decreases again this year.

"Really, farmers down here will need every bit of help that they can get with the way the weather has gone against them in the last few weeks, but it will be up to the board to decide if they can afford to pay more than the current 27c/l," he said.

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