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AstraZeneca to close UK environmental lab

Decision on Brixham facility in Devon puts 71 positions at risk
AstraZeneca AZ Brixham Lab Devon

AstraZeneca (AZ) plans to close its environmental laboratory at Brixham in Devon having taken the decision to contract out the facility's work.

The company directly employees 71 staff at Brixham, which provides specialist services to assess the environmental impact of the pharmaceuticals and chemicals used by a range of industries.

AZ, which has been cutting back hard on staff number recently and earlier this year announced cuts of nearly 4,000 positions, said Brixham's work was “outside the organisation's strategic focus of developing innovative new medicines”.

The decision will be a bitter blow to employees, who were reassured as recently as March this year that their jobs would be safe, despite AZ's decision to downsize its UK research operations and leave Alderley Park in Cheshire for a new base in Cambridge.

Tony Broughton, head of UK operations at AstraZeneca, said: “We realise that this is difficult news for our employees at Brixham and our priority is to support them over the coming months. We also acknowledge the excellent work carried out by our people at the laboratory over its history.

“However, operating an environmental laboratory for the benefit of AstraZeneca and customers across a range of industries is not a core part of our strategy, therefore after serious consideration we propose to close the site.”

The firm is exploring “a range of options” for the site's future, Broughton said, adding AZ would like to see the lab remain in use if possible.

The historic site, which first came online in 1948 and moved to its present seafront location in 1957, started life as a testing facility for ICI Paints before being transferred to AZ-forerunner Zeneca.

The lab assesses the environmental fate and effects of chemical products and offers support for their manufacturing processes to companies in pharma and other sectors.

AZ said its plans remained subject to consultation and planning for “a responsible closure”, but the company expects its operations at the site will cease by the end of March 2014.

Article by
Dominic Tyer

25th October 2013

From: Research

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