The results – eagerly awaited – of the first analyzes of deposits and concentrations of toxins in the air following the fire at the Lubrizol factory on September 26 in Rouen were made public Saturday afternoon by the prefect of the department during a press conference. These analyzes, which are available on the prefecture’s website, were carried out by the National Institute for the Industrial Environment and Risks (Ineris).
Pierre-André Durand wanted to be reassuring by announcing that the air quality in Rouen was in its “usual state”, even if he recognized that the “persistent and uncomfortable” smell was “anxiety-provoking”. “Tonight we have most of the analysis results which are encouraging in the sense that they translate to a normal situation for air quality,” insisted the prefect, who said that “the only exception” concerned the site itself, “where there is a presence of benzene”.
Rouen: a “usual state of air quality” after the fire (Prefect) – Watch on Figaro Live
“We note the presence of lead in certain places, it being specified that it may be a historic source which is not due to the fire because the company does not use or had no device for lead whereas in urban areas there can be traces of lead right away, ”explained the prefect. Pierre-André Durand also confirmed “the presence of asbestos in the roofs of buildings” of the factory, ensuring that “the subject was identified and followed up”.
Published in the evening on the prefecture site, the results of the soot fallout analyzes generated by the thick cloud of smoke “do not highlight significant differences between the control sample and the five other sites located under the plume for PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) ”.
Rouen: confirmation “of asbestos in the roof of buildings” of the factory – Watch on Figaro Live
Investigation extended to endangering others
The prefect of the Normandy region has also announced a “production and harvest freeze”: vegetables, fruits, milk, eggs, honey … will “be kept under the responsibility of the operator until health guarantees are obtained” . Another announcement: “It is possible” that some schools, those that did not have time to do a cleaning, are closed on Monday. Pierre-André Durand then answered questions from the press at length, stating in particular that 34 firefighters and 12 fire engines were still mobilized on the Lubrizol site.
Rouen: agricultural production recorded “until health guarantees are obtained” (Prefect) health “(Prefect) – Watch on Figaro Live
Earlier in the afternoon, the prosecution announced that the investigation was expanding to the endangerment of others. “Complaints have been brought to the attention of the prosecution, within the jurisdiction of the tribunal de grande instance of Rouen or outside jurisdiction, and are addressed to it as and when. In view of these elements, the investigation is henceforth also carried out on the count of endangering others, “said the prosecutor of the Republic of Rouen Pascal Prache in a press release. Me Jonas Haddad, a lawyer in Rouen, said that he had been approached by several people, but also by companies, and expected “a hundred complaints”. “We can compare this to an oil spill in the air, it does not calm down,” he said.
Rouen: the Lubrizol factory fire filmed by a drone – Watch on Figaro Live
These first analyzes take place in a tense context, many residents of Rouen, associations and political figures expressing their impatience at the lack of information on the potential harmfulness of the plume of smoke that stretched over 22 kilometers during the fire. of the Seveso classified site, and thick oily fallout that covered the area.
On the Internet, many have expressed distrust of the authorities’ first statements on September 26 and 27. Posted on change.org, a petition calling for an investigation into the health and environmental consequences of the disaster has already collected more than 22,000 signatures. Elsewhere, on Facebook, a group offering free support and accommodation to Rouennais wishing to leave the city attracted more than 2,500 people.
Several left-wing MPs have demanded the opening of a parliamentary commission of inquiry. “We need the whole truth about #Lubrizol. As with #AZF 17 years ago, a parliamentary commission of inquiry must be opened as of next week “, argued Olivier Faure, number one of the PS, on Twitter. “We are asking for a parliamentary inquiry and an administrative inquiry!” This site has already experienced several accidents (2013, 2015, 2019) “, tweeted LFI MP Eric Coquerel, saying” angry “.
No panic in the hospital
“People who are there and do not know whether or not they are exposed to a health risk, it is absurd”, indignant Olivier Blond, president of the association “Breathe” for air quality . “We are facing an oil spill in the air, in the heart of a city. You can’t wait days and days to find out what’s going on, hundreds of thousands of people are potentially exposed, it’s preposterous. “
“We can understand a form of psychosis that has taken hold in a Norman population, and particularly in Rouen”, declared Sunday September 29 the Minister of Action and Public Accounts Gérard Darmanin at the “Grand Rendez-Vous” Europe 1 -CNEWS-Les Echos. “I don’t think there is a transparency problem,” he said. “What is done and what will have to be done is to publish all of the studies and analyzes, so that everyone in the public domain can see.”
Contacted by Le Figaro, the Rouen University Hospital does not report any particular influx. “We have had 16 visits since yesterday, only one remained under observation for a few hours,” says an official. “Patients complain of itchy nose and throat, crying eyes, breathing problems, sometimes headache, symptoms of peak pollution. People are more anxious than severely affected, but there is no panic. “