• France's news in English

Inquiry launched into causes of 'French stench'

The Local/AFP · 23 Jan 2013, 09:36

Published: 23 Jan 2013 09:36 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

According to French radio RTL the owners of the Lubrizol factory will be investigated on suspicion of"endangering the lives of others".

On top of the police investigation France’s Ecology Minister Delphine Batho, who has suggested negligence" was the cause of the leak, also announced an official inquiry had been opened to determine the cause of the gas leak and who was responsible.

An operation was also underway on Wednesday to neutralize gas leaking from the plant.

The process to deal with the leaking Mercaptan gas began at 5am local time and is expected to last a number of nights.

The operation will aim to transfer the gas from the leaking container into a different one which contains a sodium solution.

“The first step for us is to make sure all necessary precautions are taken,” a spokesman for the management said. “It’s better that we take our time than we take risks.”

A cordon was still in place around the plant on Wednesday morning with traffic still restricted in the nearby area.

Anglo press delight in 'French stench'

On Tuesday the stench of rotten eggs wafted across Paris and northern France, even reaching across the sea to England. The French press noted how their British counterparts seized the opportunity to engage in their favourite past-time of French bashing. Headlines such as 'Le Pong', 'Poo la la' and 'French stench invades England' could be read online by Tuesday afternoon.

"The gas leak has once again given the British press an opportunity to wind up the French," lamented France's La Tribune newspaper.

Headaches, sore throats and nausea were nevertheless among the complaints listed in calls made overnight to emergency lines in Paris by more than 10,000 people worried by the stink that had invaded their streets and homes.

Story continues below…

Authorities insisted, however, the gas was harmless.

The leak began early on Monday at a plant run by Lubrizol, a firm that is part of billionaire US investor Warren Buffett's empire, and within a day its odour had reached millions of people across northern France.

Winds carried the invisible gas around 100 kilometres (60 miles) down the densely populated Seine river valley to Paris, and later northwards over the Channel and into England, where it even reached as far as south London.

Mercaptan is normally added to municipal gas, because its sulphurous smell alerts people to gas leaks.

The Local/AFP (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Fifteen of the most bizarre laws in France
Photo: Matthew Powell/Flickr

A must read for anyone who wants to stay on the right side of the law in France.

'New migrants arrive in Calais' despite 'Jungle' clearance
Photo: AFP

While thousands of migrants have been bussed out around France, new ones are arriving all the time.

Medieval town in south of France upholds ban on UFOs
The town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Photo: Aa77zz/Flickr

Aliens take note.

American tourist dies at French Riviera sex club
The Riviera resort of Cannes. Photo: AFP

American tourist reportedly fell five floors after being pushed outside the underground sex club in Cannes.

Paris: 'Flying' water taxis to be tested on River Seine
Photo: SeaBubbles

An in Seine idea surely? But tests will go ahead.

France joins fight for rich pickings from post-Brexit UK
Photo: AFP/DcnH/Flickr

France tries to woo EU's bank regulator and other agencies.

How speaking French can really mess up your English
Photo: CollegeDegree360/Flickr

So you've mastered French, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

French claims that Jungle camp is empty are rubbished
Photo: AFP

Reports from the scene say scores of migrants are still in the area of the Jungle despite French authorities claiming "mission fulfilled."

Kidnapped Riviera millionaire left tied up in car boot in Nice
Photo: AFP

Head of luxury Cannes hotel has been found alive after being kidnapped in Nice on Monday.

Paris landlords still charging illegally high rents
Photo: Panoramas/Flickr

... and it's tenants in the smaller apartments that get hit the hardest. Could you be paying too much?

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available