France: Chemical factory fire triggers ban on agriculture produce including feed

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/dutchicon
© GettyImages/dutchicon

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Authorities in the region of Rouen, France have issued an order banning the harvest and sale of agricultural products, including animal feed, in 112 municipalities located near the site of a chemical factory fire.

A blaze at the Lubrizol plant on September 26, 2019, a few kilometers from the center of Rouen, caused a smoke plume to spread over a wide area, some 22km around that city in Northern France. 

Local officials, in conjunction with the French ministry for agriculture and food, have taken air quality samples to determine whether there is possible contamination of agricultural production as a result of the fumes.

As a preventative measure to protect consumers, the authorities have banned the harvesting of crops in the areas affected as well as the sale of produce of animal origin farmed in the region.

The ban includes products such as milk, eggs, honey, farmed fish, fruit and vegetable crops, and animal feed.

And, in decrees published at the weekend, the prefecture of Normandy said that any farm products likely to have been exposed to contamination would have to be destroyed.

Plant products not harvested before Thursday, September 26, the day of the blaze, must not be brought in, the prefecture ordered.

The officials said the situation will be reassessed in the light of the results of further analysis.

Lubrizol, which produces additives for lubricants and paint, is a US multinational owned by billionaire investor Warren Buffett. An investigation is underway into the cause of the fire at the factory. 

The French interior minister, Christophe Castaner, visited the site of the blaze last week. He said the smoke contained “a certain number of compounds which can be a health hazard"​, though there was no “particular danger”​ according to initial analyses. 

Schools and creches, which shut following the fire due to safety concerns, re-opened today Monday [September 30]. 

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