Sources close to the Lubrizol factory in Rouen were indeed polluted by the fire of September 2019 – Release

Rouen, after the fire at the Lubrizol factorydossier

Contrary to the conclusions of the authorities, samples testify to peaks in the concentration of carcinogenic substances in certain water tables close to the site of the fire, as revealed by the information site “StreetPress”.

From a simple “everything is fine” to an indictment for “Serious damage to the environment”. The fire at the Lubrizol plant in Rouen on September 26, 2019 seems to have a greater impact on the environment than what the public authorities would like to admit. Based on samples taken by the Fishing Federation in the Bassin aux Bois de Rouen and an information site survey StreetPress, several water sources around the Norman capital were indeed polluted with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), carcinogenic substances contained in particular in fire soot.

However, the authorities had drawn very different conclusions. “There is no evidence to conclude that the observation of a contamination brought by the fire differentiable from a historical industrial pollution», explained a report from Public Health France. “There is no particular concern about the health of populations over time” abounded the prefect, quoted by StreetPress based on nearly 368,000 data items, including 6,500 samples taken from air, water and soil.

However, other results contained in a USB key transmitted by an employee of the Rouen agency to Simon de Carvalho, the president of the Association des sinistrés du Lubrizol (ASL), prove the contrary. A dataset concerning the source of Cressonnières, in Fontaine-sous-Préaux, or about ten kilometers from the Lubrizol factory, attracts the attention of the information site. The data collected by the water agency testify to an explosion in PAH concentrations in this source which supplies 100,000 Rouen residents with drinking water. In February 2020, the water taken from this source contained a little more than 1.6 micrograms per liter of 6 PAHs before treatment, while a decree of January 11, 2017 sets a maximum threshold of 1 microgram per liter of 6 PAHs concerning water intended for human consumption. A phenomenon never seen for twenty years.

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Two episodes of contamination and pollution

Concretely, the analyzes of the source of Cressonnières testify to two episodes of contamination and two episodes of pollution according to the rules fixed by a decree dating from the passage of Roselyne Bachelot at the Ministry of Health. In these two specific cases, the water is therefore logically not drinkable, but the concentrations are such that even after treatment, it cannot be consumed.

However, the samples brought to light by StreetPress do not seem to convince the water service of the metropolis of Rouen. Its director, quoted by the news site, says “Not to have been aware of these analyzes”. “The day after the fire, we installed equipment to detect PAHs in real time at Fontaine-sous-Préaux”, he justifies, assuring that “In the current state of things, I do not have to worry either for the users, or for our water resources following the fire”. Comments confirmed by the Regional Health Agency which, for its part, is based on samples taken in an area where the pollution of Cressonnières has been diluted in other sources. Especially since this water, once diluted, remains below the tolerated pollution thresholds. Move around, there would be nothing to see, since there would ultimately be no risk for drinking water.

Still, the factory fire should leave traces on the environment. “The heaviest PAHs are trapped in the rock and permeate the environment. The others are transported by water, but 90% of the water in rivers comes from groundwater. So if the water table is contaminated, the river will be. And here there is an ecological stake: PAHs are toxic for insect larvae, fish… ” explains Rouen hydrogeologist Matthieu Fournier, cited by StreetPress. Far from the falsely reassuring conclusions of the authorities.

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