Grande Paroisse faces Toulouse homicide charge

01 June 2006 13:17  [Source: ICIS news]

PARIS (ICIS news)--Fertiliser producer Grande Paroisse has been indicted for homicide and unintentional wounding following the devastating fatal explosion at the AZF site in Toulouse, France, in 2001.

The company revealed on Thursday that it would face the charges made by the Toulouse investigating magistrates Thierry Perriquet and Didier Suc.

The charges were made following a final judicial report concluding that the explosion was of a chemical nature and not caused by any other means.

No further details of the report, issued on 11 May, have been made available but 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.

Grande Paroisse owner, energy giant Total, has disputed this version of events and has been conducting its own enquiry into the disaster on 21 September 2001 that killed 30 people and wounded thousands.

This so-called chemical version of the explosion cause, which supposes negligence at the site, led to the indictment of 13 people in June 2002.

Two individuals - the employee suspected of unloading a chlorine-based product and the plant manager, Serge Biechlin - remain indicted in the case.

(Nigel Davis in London contributed to this story.)

By: Doris Leblond
+44 20 8652 3214

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