At 3.00 a.m. this morning a fire broke out at temporary storage facilities at Goodyear’s Philippsburg plant in South West Germany. Rapid reaction by the emergency services quickly brought the fire under control. No-one was injured during the incident but due to the volume of smoke people were asked to keep doors and windows closed. There was no reported release of toxic chemicals. Some 40,000 tyres were in storage at the time of the fire. Other areas of the plant, including the key Central European storage facility with some two million tyres were not affected by the fire. The extent of the damage and the cause have not yet been determined but distribution is not being affected by the incident.
An increase in the number of cars with old tyres identified at recent police roadside tyre checks has led the Tyre Industry Council to issue a warning to motorists of the potential dangers of running a car or van on over age tyres.
TIC tyre experts at roadside tyre checks in Hertfordshire and Wiltshire identified a number of vehicles with tyres between 10 and 12 years old and one car with tyres that were 15 years old.
Whilst this is not illegal, says the TIC, there are certain circumstances where the `ageing’ process can render a tyre unserviceable even if it is unused.
As the components within the tyre dry out with age, they can separate, causing the tyre to distort and vibrate and potentially the tyre could fail and deflate.
Motorists are able to check the age of a tyre by examining the date code on the sidewall of the tyre. If it is 10 years old or over the TIC strongly recommends that it be replaced.
The TIC that although tyre manufacturers add anti-ageing chemicals to compounds they are only active when the tyre is in use; therefore tyres fitted to spare wheels, caravans and trailers are particularly at risk of premature ageing bought on by ozone degradation and static `sitting’ for lengthy periods. Hence if an unused tyre reaches six years old it should not be placed into service.
Implement and ATV manufacturer Carlisle Tire has had its assets frozen in Trinidad. The company dismissed 400 employees from its Point Fortin plant which was closed two weeks ago after workers began protesting about what they claimed were unsafe working conditions, including exposure to harmful chemicals. Carlisle said it dismissed the workers because they had abandoned their jobs. Workers were not given severance packages. The court’s ruling allows Carlisle to spend only 4,200 US dollars in monthly operating expenses at the plant. The plant, located in a free-trade zone, manufactured 3,000 to 4,000 tires a day for export, according to court documents.
Reports in the press suggest that Goodyear may be looking to sell its chemicals business, which turns over around $1 billion a year, and has retained Credit Suisse First Boston to handle the sale. However, a Goodyear spokesman refused to confirm the story, saying that the company reviews all its operations but would not speculate on the possible future sale of any of the assets.
Three companies which supply chemicals for tyre manufacturing are being investigated for possible price fixing. Investigations are on-going in both the USA and Europe into Bayer AG, Flexsys NV and Crompton Corp. Experts estimate that sales of rubber-processing chemicals in the USA are worth around $900 million annually.
An illegal tyre dump, covering 145 acres and containing an estimated four million tyres, caught fire over the weekend near the city of Roanoke, Virginia. 50 people left their homes, but returned later when the wind changed direction. The cause of the blaze is not known. Governor Mark Warner declared a state of emergency on Sunday, which means that the county can use state resources. Such fires are usually left to burn themselves out, as water run-off could contain toxic chemicals. Officials said the fire “could burn for months”.