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Chemical plant fire in Rouen: French government promises transparency


After a factory fire in Rouen, many citizens are worried. In the northern French city it rained soot particles and stank. However, the authorities give the all-clear when it comes to air quality.

After a fire in a chemical factory in the northern French town of Rouen, the government promised the concerned residents complete openness. It is necessary to listen to their concerns and take them seriously, said Prime Minister Édouard Philippe on Sunday, as the newspaper Ouest France reported. One will answer all open questions transparently. The citizens of the region are concerned that the fire could have health consequences for them.

The fire broke out early Thursday morning. From the chemical factory a gigantic column of smoke had risen. French media reported huge flames and explosions in Lubrizol's factory producing additives for oils. The fire had damaged two warehouses and an administrative building. Injured had not been in the fire, the cause of the fire is still unclear.

Recently, the prefecture had appeased. Analyzes had shown that air quality was normal, prefect Pierre-André Durand said at a press conference on Saturday. The only exception is the location of the factory. It is possible that some schools are still closed for cleaning on Monday, Durand said.

Critics had accused the authorities of not keeping track of the long-term effects of the cloud of smoke and playing down the danger. There were numerous traces of soot in the region after the fire. Rivers and lakes were polluted and there was an unpleasant odor in the air. Authorities had repeatedly stressed that no dangerous substances had been released. Media reported that the cloud of smoke has now moved across Belgium towards the Netherlands.

"Definitely dirty"

France's Health Minister Agnès Buzyn had stressed on Friday evening that the city was "clearly polluted". She advised residents, soot and tar during cleaning work only with protective gloves to touch. It is never good for the population to come into contact with such substances. Meanwhile, the prosecutor's office expanded its investigations on the weekend and now also investigates the risk of stalemate, as the news agency AFP reported.

According to the authorities, the factory in Normandy belongs to the so-called Seveso category of dangerous sites, which are specially monitored. In Seveso, Italy, near Milan, there had been a devastating chemical accident in 1976.

Source: spiegel

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