Nothing to worry about? French authorities admit over 5,200 tons of chemicals went up in flames during recent blaze in Rouen
A whopping 5,253 tons of assorted chemicals, mainly oil and fuel additives, have been destroyed in a major blaze at a chemical plant in Rouen that prompted fears of potential health harm and environmental damage last week.
The detailed report on what exactly burned in the September 26 incident at the plant, operated by US multinational chemical firm Lubrizol, was released by local administration on Tuesday.
Most the destroyed chemicals turned out to be multi-purpose fuel additives (3,308 tons) and viscosity booster (711 tons), according to the report that includes detailed graphs on what components exactly hide behind these names. Other compounds included various solvents, lubricants, anti-freeze and other fluids.
The fire at the chemical plant, formally classified as a high-risk area by the EU due to the nature of the chemicals it handles, engulfed Rouen last Thursday in thick black smoke that left rich soot on the surroundings.
It also prompted fears of potential health hazards and environmental damage, with the locals and eco-activists staging several protests demanding the “truth” about the blaze. The authorities, as well as Lubrizol itself, vowed to be transparent about the accident, its causes and consequences.
On Monday, the plant was visited by the French PM Edouard Philippe, who tried his best to reassure the locals that there was nothing to worry about. The smell that sill persisted throughout the city was described by the official as “annoying” yet “not harmful.”
On top of that, Philippe claimed“the quality of the air in Rouen is not in question,” citing scientists. He added, however, that he “perfectly understood” the anxiety of the locals.
Meanwhile, residents of Rouen have been told not to eat fruit and vegetables from their gardens, while farmers were banned from selling their produce from the area, including milk. Apart from that, authorities insisted the water in the city remained “drinkable,” responding to the pictures of greyish and faintly black tap water that have been shared online.
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