Second fire in less than two years burns for five hours at Sonae's Knowsley, U.K., particleboard plant; council says factory's future is under review

LOS ANGELES , February 1, 2012 () – The latest incident at Portuguese wood panel manufacturer Sonae's U.K. factory in Knowsley has led to calls for its environmental permit to be rescinded, according to a report by  BBC News.

On Thursday, a second fire in less than a year broke out at the particleboard factory, igniting 9.8 tons of sawdust. The fire burned for five hours before firefighters could bring it under control.

Last June, a fire burned for eight days at the plant, and in December 2010 two men were killed there when they were dragged into a wood chipping machine.

Knowsley MP George Howarth has previously called for the factory to be closed, and said that, in view of the incidents, the council should rescind Sonae U.K.'s environmental permit.

A Knowsley Council spokeswoman said the latest incident at Sonae was being taken extremely seriously, and added that officials are in discussions with the Health and Safety Executive about the factory's future.

Sonae U.K.'s managing director Nigel Graham said the plant's safety systems activated immediately and stopped the fire spreading, and the internal sprinklers had prevented damage to the equipment.

Responding to reports of two explosions, Graham said these were part of the safety system that diffuses pressure caused by fire.

Graham said a thorough investigation was under way and that the safety of staff remained "paramount".

The primary source of this article is BBC News, Knowsley, U.K., on Jan. 27, 2012.

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