• France's news in English
 

Pong from French gas leak reaches UK

Published: 22 Jan 2013 08:54 GMT+01:00
Updated: 22 Jan 2013 16:00 GMT+01:00

Headaches and nausea were among the complaints in calls made overnight to emergency lines in Paris by more than 10,000 people worried by the stench of rotten eggs that had invaded their streets and homes.

But France's Ecology Minister Delphine Batho, who cut short an official trip to Berlin to rush to the site of the leak at a chemical plant in the picturesque city of Rouen in Normandy, said there was no health risk.

The leak began early Monday at a Lubrizol plant.

Winds carried the foul-smelling invisible gas down the densely-populated Seine river valley to Paris, and later northwards over the Channel and into England, where it even reached south London.

"South Kent residents are being asked to keep doors and windows closed due to a gas cloud that is believed to have come across from France," the fire and
rescue service in the southeastern English region said.

The offending odour came from a gas called mercaptan, which, among other uses, is added to municipal gas because its sulphurous smell alerts people to gas leaks.

The Lubrizol plant, which makes additives for industrial lubricants and paint, shut down production as they battled to plug the leak which company executives hoped would be done later Tuesday.

Regional authorities ordered the postponement of a French Cup tie match in Rouen between the city's football team and Marseille on Tuesday evening.

"We didn't want to be in a situation where we have 10,000 spectators two kilometres away from the plant without any capacity for confining or evacuating them if that were necessary," said senior local official Florence Gouache.

Snow had already threatened the game -- a sellout -- although a pitch inspection on Monday had led to the match being given the go-ahead prior to the gas leak.

Despite the official insistence that there was no danger, French social media were awash with people in the affected regions complaining of headaches and nausea from the gas that smelled like rotten eggs.

"They're all saying not to panic, but they said the same thing about the cloud from Chernobyl," said mother-of-four Patricia Cousteau, referring to radioactive fallout that spread across Europe in 1986 after an explosion at a Ukrainian nuclear plant.

Authorities said in an earlier statement that a chemical substance at the Lubrizol plant became unstable and caused odours that are similar to those of town gas."The gas has an unpleasant smell but is not toxic," it said.

The concentration of the gas was also "very low", the statement said, adding that "a large number of people have been inconvenienced".

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
More French pensioners head abroad to settle
Many French pensioners are heading to sunny Portugal. But not just for the weather. Photo: Shutterstock

More French pensioners head abroad to settle

While many expats dream of retiring in France, the French themselves are more and more likely to leave home and enjoy their twilight years abroad, partly due to the sunnier financial climes on offer. READ  

Paris reveals City of Light's best baguette
And the best baguette in the French capital is? Photo: Alex/Flickr

Paris reveals City of Light's best baguette

Paris has named the best baguette in town, with the winner in the city's 18th arrondissement set to bake a fresh batch for the president every morning for the next year. READ  

France examines new crackdown on prostitutes
Sex workers at a protest in Paris are against the new bill. Photo: AFP

France examines new crackdown on prostitutes

The divisive issue of how France could crackdown on the world's oldest profession was once again back on the table on Monday with French lawmakers set to debate whether to punish prostitutes or their clients. READ  

French job seeker given 26,000 years to pay €3k
Photo: AFP

French job seeker given 26,000 years to pay €3k

France's national employment agency Pôle Emploi has made a bizarre repayment request, asking a Frenchman to cough up 1 centime a month for the next 26,126 years. READ  

Body of British man washed up on Riviera
Photo: The village of Eze on the Côte d'Azur, where the body of a British man was washed up. Photo: Jim MacDougall/Flickr

Body of British man washed up on Riviera

Police in the south of France are investigating after it emerged on Monday that the body of a British man was washed up on the Côte d'Azur. READ  

French drunk gives kiss of life to 'dying' dinghy
The inflatable boat in this picture is not the one that underwent CPR in the story. Photo: Rootology/Wikimedia Commons

French drunk gives kiss of life to 'dying' dinghy

A good (but very drunk) Samaritan spent the night in prison after police found the Frenchman trying to breathe life into an inflatable boat in Brittany, western France. READ  

French local elections 2015
French local elections: Who won and who lost
Should Marine Le Pen be feeling disappointed after Sunday's election results? Photo: AFP

French local elections: Who won and who lost

Even though only half of the French people turned out to vote, Sunday's local elections could have a significant impact on the country's political landscape with the next presidential election almost within sight. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
The story of the doomed Germanwings flight
An emergency worker combs the mountainside after the Germanwings crash. Photo: AFP

The story of the doomed Germanwings flight

More details from the black box recordings from the crashed Germanwings jet have revealed how everything seemed ordinary as the flight took off but it ended with the horror of the pilot screaming "open the damn door". READ  

Bond legend in racism row with French mag
Roger Moore is in a row with a French magazine over an interview in which he talked about the possibility of a future black James Bond. Photo: AFP

Bond legend in racism row with French mag

James Bond legend Roger Moore insisted Saturday he had said nothing racist about fellow British actor Idris Elba -- tipped to play the superspy next -- in a French magazine interview. READ  

Local elections
French socialists take a beating in local elections
Nicolas Sarkozy hailed the victory of his centre-right alliance that routed the Socialists in the local elections. Photo: AFP

French socialists take a beating in local elections

France's ruling Socialists lost out to the right in the country's local elections on Sunday as Nicolas Sarkozy said the French public had massively rejected the Hollande government. Reports said the National Front failed to take control of a council. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
What's on in France: Ten things to do in April
National
Images released of the harrowing search at Alps plane crash site
IN PICTURES: Grieving relatives visit plane crash site in Alps
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
Co-pilot suspected of crashing plane
National
Paris: France mulls lifting ban on casinos
Damaged black box could hold key to Alps plane crash probe
Does low cost mean low safety? Questions after Germanwings crash
Gallery
IN PICTURES: A timeline of the Alps plane crash
National
So what might have caused the plane crash in the French Alps?
National
Videos emerge of Alps crash site wreckage
National
What we know so far about the plane crash in the French Alps
National
Where in La Belle France do British expats avoid?
National
IN PICTURES: 'Tide of the century' draws tens of thousands
National
Paris ends smog-fighting restrictions as the air finally clears
National
The main mistakes made by French property buyers
National
International French Language day: But what does the future hold?
National
IN PICTURES: What went on behind the clouds during Friday's eclipse
National
French food porn: What is the Gallic grub that goes viral the most?
Culture
France treated to rare Northern Lights show
Politics
Shady candidates undermine French far-right's election bid once again
Politics
French minister takes a swipe at overuse of Franglais in workplace
French gastronomy set for global charm offensive
French newspaper stuns readers with porn film pics on front page
Sport
The reasons why Zlatan Ibrahimovic might really think France is s**t
National
France could soon ban skinny models from catwalks
Health
Is France's much-envied health care system under threat?
National
There are jobs in France where you don't need to speak French
National
New plan to improve life in rural France drawn up
Education
Paris universities on the up in new rankings
Sport
We meet one of the most entertaining footballers in France
National
New plan to improve life in rural France drawn up
Features
Forget Paris. Is Bordeaux the best place to live in France?
Travel
Runaway plane mows down skier on the slopes of French Alps
Society
Friday 13th: A look at France's superstitions
Culture
France is ready to end its stubborn resistance to the English language
Features
'Hedgehog' and other words that French people simply can't say
Society
The worst 'nightmares' of living in France (written by a Frenchman)
Health
French hospitals crisis: 'It's like the UK under Margaret Thatcher'
Sponsored Article
Expert US tax preparation for Americans in France
VIDEO: Footage emerges of the moment two helicopters collided
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Helicopter crash kills 10, including French sports stars
Culture
What's on in France: Ten things to do in March
New French rail strike: RER B and regional trains to be worst hit
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se