Lubrizol Working to Reopen Rouen Plant

A month after a blaze roared through two Lubrizol Corp. warehouses in Rouen, France, the company is still working to reopen its manufacturing facility there.

Lubrizol said it cannot give a date when the facility will resume operations until the Prefect of Seine-Maritime - the regional government - gives the green light. The prefect did not respond to a request for information by deadline.

While Rouen operations have been temporarily suspended, our team has determined that, outside the drumming and warehousing areas, the site sustained little to no damage. We hope to resume operations in non-impacted production areas soon, said Alicia Gauer, Lubrizols director of global communications. At this time, we have several dozen employees working out of our Rouen site as we continue to support the local authorities in their work and begin to prepare the site for a return to operations.

The prefects reported it started removing more than 60 lubricant additives drums damaged during the fire, a process which could take up to 60 days.

A government document shows that approximately 5,200 tons of lubricant additive products were stored in Lubrizols warehouses at the time they caught fire. Lubrizol said that within eight hours of the start of the fire it provided local authorities the list of 280 products stored in the warehouses. In the days that followed, it provided thousands of additional pages of background on the materials, including detailed safety data sheets.

During and in the days following the fire, residents reported sore throats, eye irritation and shortened breath. The government said air, water and food contamination tests show no serious threat to health.

Lubrizol is sorry for the irritation and concern caused by the fires smoke, but we are also confident based on initial information that what was burned in our facility poses no health threat other than the short-term irritation one would normally experience in the presence of smoke, Gauer said. The smoke resulting from impacted Lubrizol materials is similar to the smoke that would be emitted from other common fires. Our products are mainly comprised of organic materials, largely carbon and hydrogen. We are supporting additional testing and monitoring to alleviate public concerns.

The Rouen facility is classified as a Seveso site under European Union chemicals legislation aimed at identifying industrial sites that produce and store substances that may be dangerous to humans and the environment in order to maintain a high level of prevention. The EU reports that 39 inspections have been conducted at the Lubrizol site within the last six years.

Lubrizol is one of the globes largest producers of lubricant additive packages. Its Rouen and Le Havre facilities are the companys primary production sites in Europe, but Lubrizol said video surveillance shows the blaze started outside its facility.