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‘We want to know what we’re breathing’: Rouen residents rally after devastating chemical plant blaze (VIDEO)

‘We want to know what we’re breathing’: Rouen residents rally after devastating chemical plant blaze (VIDEO)
Scores of people thronged the streets of Rouen, France, demanding the authorities disclose “the truth” about a recent fire that ravaged a local chemical plant, making the air barely breathable in the contaminated area.

Joined by local union members, hundreds of anxious Rouen residents marched through the town just days after the major blaze swept through the Lubrizol chemical factory on Thursday. Some were holding banners and placards, others vented ire at the way the authorities tackled the aftermath of the massive fire.

People in Rouen allege that the government is hiding essential information from the local community. "I’m here to know the truth, to know which products we are breathing, to know why they didn’t close the schools before knowing all the results,” explained one woman.

“We want to know all the consequences on our health and on the animals, on the agriculture, it’s important as well. We’re waiting for true answers,” she told Ruptly video agency.


Although the fire consumed tons of fuel additives and viscosity boosters at Lubrizol, polluting the air and water, top government officials downplayed fears of potential health hazards and environmental damage.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, who visited Rouen, assured the public that the unpleasant smell that still persisted throughout the city was “annoying” but “not harmful.” A local prefect, meanwhile, told residents they can “live and work normally,” according to BFMTV

The explanations don’t sit well with the protesters, however. "We’re afraid that other old factories could explode somewhere else,” another local said.

Suspicions grew further after Rouen residents were cautioned against eating fruit and vegetables from their gardens, while farmers have been banned from selling their local produce, including milk.

Health Minister Agnes Buzyn gave oxygen to the public anxiety, telling reporters that the city “is clearly polluted.” She added: “I cannot guarantee that there is no danger. There are of course traces of hydrocarbons.” Her comment came just as social media users shared videos of greyish water which the authorities called “drinkable” and “toxin free.”

Also on rt.com Nothing to worry about? French authorities admit over 5,200 tons of chemicals went up in flames during recent blaze in Rouen

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