Lubrizol Corp. said Thursday afternoon that it is too early to know if a blaze at its Rouen, France, factory will impact supply to customers or when the plant will resume operations.
Lubrizol is one of the worlds four main producers of lubricant additive packages, and Rouen – along with another plant in nearby Le Havre, France – is its main production site in Europe.
According to the company, initial reports indicated that the fire impacted a drumming warehouse and an administrative building at the Rouen site. The blaze started just before 3 a.m. local time, and residents in the city reported hearing explosions shortly after. At noon EST a Lubrizol spokesperson said no one was injured and that the fire had been contained.
Once local officials clear the site for return, we will be able to better assess the impact and when we can return to operations, the spokesperson said. How and where the fire started have not yet been determined.
Video footage of the event showed clouds of dark smoke rising high above a five-story building. Authorities set up a 500 meter (more than 1,600 feet) perimeter around the facility, closed local schools for the day and advised residents of Rouen to stay inside and to limit travel.
Environmental testing by local authorities indicate no initial finding of acute toxicity from the resulting smoke, the spokesperson said
The facility, which sits on the bank of the River Seine, has a history of accidents, according to local media reports.
In January 2013, the plant experienced a leak of mercaptans from decayed zinc dialkyldithiophospate, known as ZDDP. Mercaptans smell like cabbage or rotten eggs, and the odor blew as far as Paris and across the English Channel and into southern England. The company temporarily suspended plant operations while its teams worked in cooperation with local authorities to stop the smell as quickly as possible. Plant operations resumed in February 2013.
In 2015, 2,000 liters (528 gallons) of mineral oil, used in lubricants, leaked into Rouens sewer system.