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Schools in Rouen to re-open after massive fire in chemical plant

French ecology transition minister Elisabeth Borne seen at the Elysees Palace, May 2019
French ecology transition minister Elisabeth Borne seen at the Elysees Palace, May 2019 REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Schools closed due to a fire in a chemical plant in Rouen, have reopened today after being cleaned. But the cause of Wednesday night’s blaze at Lubrizol is still unknown. The Mayor has reassured the public that the authorities have the situation under control.

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The Mayor of Rouen, Yvon Robert told the French public news France Info on Monday that he has confidence in the relevant authorities who are investigating the fire and carrying out tests.

The fire broke out at the Lubrizol plant in Rouen last Thursday, sending clouds of black smoke across the city, leading to the closure of schools in the area.

The regional health agency (ARS) on Monday gave the greenlight to re-open the 237 schools, 194 of them had been cleaned.

The closure had affected 55,000 students.

On Sunday, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, promised that the government would publish all relevant information about the tests to the public.

This after angry comments filled social media over the weekend, accusing the government and the authorities of covering up the details of the fire.

The Mayor of Rouen also reassured the public that the results of tests would be released to the public as soon as possible.

“We found dust in the courtyards of three schools in particular, and two schools had soot on the window sills, and they have all been cleaned,” he said.

“We want to know why and how the fire got started.”

Ban on the sale of agricultural products

Meanwhile, the Minister for Ecology Transition, Elisabeth Borne admitted that there was a disagreeable smell in the air, but that there was no health risk per se.

“The latest results will be available tomorrow,” she told France Info on Monday, “but what we have seen so far is that there is no problematic air pollution and the dust has shown no pollution until now.”

“What we need is transparence,” she urged, “a site that had been checked ten times in two years is not normal. The factory will remain closed until we know exactly what happened.”

In the meantime, the Prefecture of Police has put in place a ban on the selling of agricultural products in 112 villages around Rouen as a precaution.

 

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