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Food sales banned from 100 communes in northern France after chemical factory blaze

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Food sales banned from 100 communes in northern France after chemical factory blaze
The wreckage of the Lubrizol factory in Rouen. Photo: AFP
08:16 CEST+02:00
The sale of crops or animal products from 100 districts around Rouen has been banned over pollution fears after the massive blaze at a toxic chemical factory.

Soot spewed out by the blaze over some agricultural areas was "liable to present a public health risk that requires us to take immediate measures on a precautionary basis", the regional administration said.

It added in decrees published on Sunday that in the absence of food safety guarantees from producers, anything likely to have been exposed to contamination would have to be destroyed.


Drone footage taken by local fire crews of the blazing factory. Photo: AFP/SDIS

Around 100 districts in the area surrounding Rouen are expected to have been affected.

The fire broke out in the early hours of Thursday morning after residents were woken by a series of explosions.

The cloud of thick black smoke spewing out of the site of the Lubrizol factory reached as far as Belgium and the Netherlands, with soot deposits found in both countries, according to the Centre de crise de Wallonie (CRC-W).

 

On Friday, France's health minister Agnes Buzyn said she could not guarantee there was no risk to the public from the pollution caused by the fire.

After battling the flames for around 24 hours, fire crews managed to extinguish it on Friday morning, but local complained of a noxious smell hanging over the town, causing headaches and nausea.

Police union Alternative Police say that several officers who were on duty in the area on Thursday and Friday have now been placed on sick leave with nausea, headaches and dizziness. The union is calling for a medical evaluation of all of the 150 officers who were on duty during the fire.

Schools in Rouen and 13 surrounding communes were closed on Thursday and remained closed on a Friday as a massive clean-up operation began to rid the town of the soot that had settled on outdoor areas.


The cause of the blaze is still under investigation. Photo: AFP

The huge blaze in a storage facility of the factory owned by Lubrizol, a manufacturer of industrial lubricants and fuel additives owned by the billionaire American investor Warren Buffett.

Lubrizol said the fire damaged a storage facility, a drumming warehouse and an administrative building.

 
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