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BioVectra CEO Ron Keefe takes the stand before the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission on Wednesday to oppose an apartment proposed for a site close to his factory. ((CBC))

Arguments against building a new apartment block close to a P.E.I. pharmaceutical manufacturer were heard Wednesday by the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission.

Officials from BioVectra — a bioscience company that works with hazardous chemicals, solvents and other dangerous materials — are opposed to an apartment complex being built about 25 metres away from its plant on the outskirts of Charlottetown.

The permit for the 18-unit apartment complex was issued by Charlottetown council in December 2009. BioVectra appealed the decision in June.

Ron Keefe, the company's president and CEO, told the commission there are 100,000 litres of flammable solvent on the site.

While he said he ensures BioVectra meets strict safety standards, Keefe said he does not want to be held responsible if an explosion were to occur.

"The chemical plant has been there for 20 years," he said Wednesday.

"You're telling me that the city of Charlottetown can't look at that building permit and say, 'Oh well, we don't have to look and see whether it's safe or whether it's healthy to build this particular building here'?

"'Because it's permitted use, we gotta let it happen'? That's ridiculous."

Keefe said the probability of injury and death increases by putting an apartment building so close to the site. He said if an inquiry is held in the future about residents harmed by chemicals while living in the apartment building, he wants to be on the record as having opposed the project.

The developer — Mervin Jay, of Paramount Construction — and city officials are expected to take the stand Thursday.

Lawyers for Paramount Construction say they will argue the six months it took to file the appeal is a large time lapse, considering appeals are usually filed within 21 days.