A year and a half after a fire at a local lubricant additive factory, the northern France city of Rouen has adopted a system that will use SMS alerts to inform area residents of industrial accidents.
The municipality implemented its program following complaints that an existing state system was not activated in a timely manner during the fire at a plant operated by Lubrizol.
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The fire, which also burned part of the property of an adjacent business, broke out around 3 a.m. on Sept. 26. The state of Seine-Maritime, in which Rouen is located, had a system calling for sirens to be activated in the case of fires or other incidents that could pose a threat to area residents. According to local news organizations, officials did not activate the sirens until nearly 8 a.m. because they feared causing a panic if they went off during the night.
Critics said that numerous residents were awake and about before the sirens started because they were unaware of the incident. Government officials later advised residents to stay inside to avoid contact with airborne particles from the fire.
More than 4,300 residents have signed up for the municipal alert system.
State officials and Lubrizol have insisted that in-depth testing has shown no evidence of any health risks from the fire. Some residents have expressed mistrust in those reports.
Previous operations still have not been fully restored at the Lubrizol factory.