Requiring more stringent hazardous materials reporting is one of six key recommendations made by a French Senate Commission of Inquiry investigating the massive Lubrizol chemical plant fire in Rouen, France, last September.
Recommendations from the seven-month investigation were released Thursday.
The fire destroyed 5,253 tons of chemicals, oils, and fuel additives at the Lubrizol facility and another 4,250 tons at the adjoining Normandie Logistique storage facility. It ranks as the worst industrial accident in France since the explosion of the AZF factory in 2001.
Created the month following the disaster, the Senate inquiry commission was charged with two objectives:
• Assessing the management of the crisis by State services, and
• Propose new rules to prevent industrial risks.
“To genuinely prevent accidents so that (the public) no longer have to suffer the consequences, the commission of inquiry formulates six recommendations intended so that, like the terrorist risk or the health risk, the industrial risk is really taken on account by everyone – State, companies, local authorities and citizens,” a statement issued by the commission states.
Chief among the recommendations is requiring operators of “Seveso” classified facilities to make available in real time a comprehensive and up-to-date inventory of stored substances
Under the European Union “Seveso Directive” – named after the catastrophic 1976 chemical plant accident in Italy – nearly 12,000 chemical plants and refineries where dangerous substances are used or stored in large quantities must inform authorities about the products on site. However, after a failed terrorist attack on a French chemical plant in 2015, that information is no longer available to the public.
In the U.S., the reporting threshold for any hazardous substance is 10,000 pounds. Under Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act Section 302 the reporting threshold for extremely hazardous substance (EHS) is 500 pounds or the EPA established threshold planning quantity for that chemical, whichever is lower.
Other recommendations by the commission include:
- Create a culture surrounding industrial risk through education and training utilizing regularly scheduled large-scale exercises.
- Clarification and modernization of the State’s emergency communications doctrine, particularly the use of cell phones and social networks for real-time monitoring of the situation.
- Ensure better coordination between the State and local authorities.
- Possibly guarantee reimbursement for victims covering the amount of their insurance deductible.
- Ensure health monitoring of affected populations by opening two morbidity registers, one relating to general cancers and the other to birth defects.
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