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Thursday 22 February 2018

Workers evacuated after chemical plant blaze

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

A LARGE blaze at a chemical plant in north county Dublin led to the evacuation of workers and a massive response by emergency services.

It is understood the fire was started after a small explosion caused by sparks from a grinding machine being used by workers at Lonza chemical plant in Swords, which is being dismantled.

The incident happened at approximately 4:30pm this afternoon.

Gardai sealed off surrounding roads and the fire was attended by several units of of the Dublin Fire Brigade, including the Chemical Incident Unit.

About 30 workers from the plant were evacuated along with many more from an adjoining Bristol Myers Squibb plant and a council depot further down the road.

Witnesses saw heavy black smoke billowing more than 100ft in the air.

The blaze was brought under control by about 6pm.

Lonza's head of operations in Europe, Kevin Whelan, told the Irish Independent that the company would be investigating what caused the fire to propagate.

He confirmed that none of the workers were hurt but said it was too early to say on what type of material burned in the blaze and if it was toxic but speculated that it could have been oil or plastics.

He said the smoke had dissipated away from residential areas.

He apologised to local residents and said the company would be bringing in the Health and Safety Authority and the Environmental Protection Agency as part of the investigation.

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