Lubrizol still trying to neutralise mercapatan escape at French plant

23 January 2013 15:50  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Lubrizol and French authorities were still working on Wednesday to neutralise a mercaptan gas release at Lubrizol’s lubricant additives plant in Rouen in northwest France, officials said.

The release of the foul-smelling gas from a batch of products at the plant began on Monday (21 January) morning, affecting large parts of northern France and even southeast England.

Officials at the prefecture of Seine-Maritime said that work to neutralise the gas had been proceeding “normally” over the night from Tuesday to Wednesday.

Workers were currently treating about 12 tonnes of 36 tonnes of affected products. Neutralising mercaptan smell was a slow process and would take a certain time, the officials added.

Samples taken at the site showed the concentration of mercaptan had gone down to 20 parts per million (ppm), from 80 ppm on Monday, they said.

Meanwhile, authorities on Wednesday morning lifted bans on vehicle and pedestrian traffic near the plant, and some 270 workers at five nearby plants resumed work.

France’s ecology minister Delphine Batho said in webcast remarks on Wednesday that the situation at the site was under control.

Batho said the incident was not posing health risks, given the low concentrations of mercaptan in the release. However, at high concentrations mercaptan could pose health risks, she said.

The cause of the incident was “without doubt” due to negligence, Batho said, but she added it would be up to an official investigation to establish the exact cause.

US-based Lubrizol said on Tuesday that following the incident it temporarily suspended operations at the lubricants additives plant. The company was investigating the incident to determine an exact cause and identify any needed corrective actions, it said.

By: Stefan Baumgarten
+1 713 525 2653

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

For the latest chemical news, data and analysis that directly impacts your business sign up for a free trial to ICIS news - the breaking online news service for the global chemical industry.

Get the facts and analysis behind the headlines from our market leading weekly magazine: sign up to a free trial to ICIS Chemical Business.

Printer Friendly