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Bridgestone´s Tochigi plant begins recovery from fire

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Bridgestone Corp.´s Tochigi, Japan, tire manufacturing plant, which was damaged by fire last September, is on its way to running at full capacity.

According to Kenichi Kitawaki, the company´s general manager of corporate communications, a newly constructed rubber mixing shop began operation at the plant on July 15.

"The completion of the rubber mixing shop will allow for raising the capacity utilization rate at the Tochigi plant, and management at Bridgestone expects the plant to be operating at full capacity by the end of this year," he adds.

Bridgestone has installed state-of-the-art equipment in the chemical mixing room to prevent fires. It also has fitted each rubber mixing machine with firewalls.

At the time of the fire, which destroyed the rubber mixing area, Bridgestone calculated that the total adverse effect of the blaze would equal about 40 billion yen ($364 million at the current exchange rate).

"That total includes direct losses from fire damage, reduced income attributable to lost sales in 2003 and 2004, and the cost of rebuilding and equipping a rubber mixing shop," said Bridgestone officials.

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