A pending criminal investigation into the September 2019 fire that devastated the Lubrizol chemical plant in Rouen, France, points to a neighboring storage facility as the source of the flames, the newspaper Le Monde reported Wednesday.
The massive Lubrizol fire destroyed 5,253 tons of chemicals with another 4,250 tons burned at the adjoining Normandie Logistique storage facility.
Le Monde states that a criminal investigation underway the last eight months indicates a pair of electric heaters in a locker room at Normandie Logistique started the fire. No evidence makes it possible to determine the cause absolutely.
“However, the location of the locker room of Normandie Logistique in relation to the fire starting area, its obsolescence, the presence of two electric heaters on which clothes could have been placed in order to dry them, leaves room for questions,” the still unreleased investigation report states.
As to obsolescence, employees described the break room as having a leaking roof and multiple appliances plugged into the same power strip, Le Monde reports.
Normandie Logistique did not respond to the newspaper’s request for an interview.
Lubrizol CEO Eric Schnur, testifying before the French Senate and National Assembly commissions investigating the disaster, said in October that he had no doubt that flames spread to his company’s property from outside, indirectly implicating Normandie Logistique.
Security video from the night of the fire shows flames approaching the Lubrizol site from outside the property, Schnur said. Officials with Normandie Logistique, which also saw extensive damage to their facility, denied that the fire originated from there.
Three magistrates from the public health section of the Paris court initiated an extensive judicial investigation of the fire focused on “endangering the lives of others,” “involuntary injuries” and “involuntary destruction by fire.”
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