Pfizer and Irish port authorities working to stop API plant gathering dust

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT

Ringaskiddy ferry terminal, Cork Harbour,
Ringaskiddy ferry terminal, Cork Harbour,
Pfizer is working with Irish authorities to avoid a repeat of a 2013 incident when dust produced from Cork harbour entered its nearby API facility.

Pfizer’s plant in Ringaskiddy, Cork, manufactures the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) for such drugs as one-time bestseller Lipitor​ and erectile dysfunction drug Viagra​. However, operations were threatened last year when dust from the nearby harbour entered the facility, a recent hearing by Ireland’s planning permission independent body An Bord Pleanála revealed.

“Pfizer confirms that dust was detected in the HVAC [heating, ventilation, and air conditioning pre-filtering system] pre-filtering system of one of its manufacturing plants in 2013 as a result of external activity outside of the Ringaskiddy site,”​ the firm said in a statement sent to

“The impact on the site was confined and localised to one area and there was no impact on manufacturing operations or product quality. The HVAC pre-filtering system indicated an increased level of dust, however the filter system prevented this entering the plant.”

Port officials did not respond to requests for further information from this publication but according to the Irish Examiner​ a gale in February 2013 swept a large amount of fine particles of palm kernel into the air from a ship which was being unloaded.

County Cork is looking to redevelop its port facilities at Ringaskiddy, and a response to further information request in July​ admitted that the local environment is prone to “fugitive dust release”​ with levels of dust in 2013 ranging between 27mg/m2​/day and 254mg/m2​/day.

“Pfizer is working with the Port of Cork to mitigate against a similar incident occurring again,”​ the pharma firm.


Ringaskiddy is home to a number of Big Pharma drugmaking facilities from some of the biggest pharma firms including J&J’s Janssen, Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline.

Janssen spokesman Craig Stoltz told this publication the incident did not impact the firm’s operations.

However, he added: “While we cannot go into detail about the workings of our production facilities, Janssen does have systems in place to help ensure that our plants are not contaminated with any sort of outside impurities.”

The close proximity of so many pharma firms has led to a number of cooperative projects including the implementation of two wind turbines​ used to generate power at a Janssen, Novartis and GSK. Pfizer had been interested in the project but pulled out due to economic reasons.

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