Lubrizol CEO maintains that massive September fire in France originated outside the facility property
Lubrizol CEO Eric Schnur told French lawmakers that he has no doubt that the massive September fire at a Lubrizol chemical plant in Rouen that forced evacuations and school closures spread to the facility from outside the plant property.
“All the information we have indicates that it has been triggered outside our facilities,” said Schnur, according to reports widely quoted in the French media.
Schnur testified Wednesday ()ct. 23) before the French Senate and National Assembly commissions investigating the September 26 fire. Local officials maintain the fire burned 5,253 tons of chemicals at the Lubrizol site and an additional 4,250 tons at a storage facility next door.
Security video from the night of the fire shows flames approaching the Lubrizol site from outside the property, Schnur said. Officials with Normandie Logistique, a neighboring storage facility extensively damaged by fire that night deny that it originated from there.
The Normandie Logistique storage facility held chemical for Lubrizol and other manufacturers.
“Relative to Lubrizol materials at Normandie Logistique, Lubrizol has utilized Normandie Logistique for years to store Lubrizol materials,” Schnur told lawmakers. “Utilizing external warehouses for storage of goods is a common practice by businesses across industries globally.”
Lubrizol materials represent less than half of what burned in the fire at Normandie Logistique, he said.
Schnur pledged that chemical storage destroyed on the Lubrizol property would not be rebuilt at that site but relocated outside the Rouen community.
“On behalf of our 8,700 Lubrizol employees globally, I first want to express our sincerest apology to everyone that was impacted by the fire on September 26 that destroyed our drumming and warehousing operation in Rouen,” Schnur told legislators. “And, we are very sorry for all the concern and disruption it has created in the days and weeks that have followed.”
The French government has lifted an earlier ban that forbid farmers in an area perceived to have been effected from selling crops or animals. Schnur told lawmakers that Lubrizol is committed to providing support for farmers who experienced loss due to the fire.
“We also are committed to support for the broader community, including funding for support of local area businesses that were impacted as well as support for cleaning services, which is underway,” he said.
However, Schnur maintained that the product burned that belonged to Lubrizol “pose no health threat other than the short-term irritation one would normally experience in the presence of smoke.”