AZF blast of chemical nature - Toulouse prosecutor

12 May 2006 16:13  [Source: ICIS news]

PARIS (ICIS news)--The devastating explosion on 21 September 2001 at the AZF Toulouse site of Grande Paroisse, a division of Total, "was of a chemical nature", said Toulouse public prosecutor Paul Michel.

The public prosecutor was responding late on Thursday after receiving the final report from legal experts on the disaster which claimed the lives of 30 people and wounded thousands of others.

The words "chemical nature" suggested that the explosion was caused by a mixture of ammonium nitrate (AN) stored in the warehouse where the explosion occurred and a chlorine product which was brought there by mistake.

This is all that has been divulged so far of the report which neither Total nor its lawyer, Maitre Soulez Larivière, have read. The oil and gas group’s lawyer, however, told ICIS news on Friday that Total continued to dispute the chemical version of the explosion. Total, he said, would bring out its own report at a later date.

The so-called chemical version, which supposes negligence at the site, led to the indictment of 13 people in June 2002. Only two people - the employee suspected of unloading the chlorine product and the plant manager Serge Biechlin – remain indicted in the case.

By: Doris Leblond
+44 20 8652 3214

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