France probes Lubrizol mercaptan incident as clean-up work continues

24 January 2013 16:01  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--French prosecutors have begun an investigation into the cause of a mercaptan gas leak from a lubricants additives plant owned by US-based company Lubrizol at Rouen in northwest France, officials said on Thursday.

The mercaptan escape, from a batch of products at the plant, began on 21 January. Winds spread the foul-smelling gas through northern France and even to southeast England on Monday and Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Lubrizol employees and French authorities continued measures to neutralise the mercaptan on Thursday, with the work expected to continue in coming days, officials said.

The work involves transferring the affected products into a vat containing a bleach solution that will treat the products and neutralise the mercaptan. After that, the products will be destroyed.

Authorities at the French prefecture of Seine-Maritime reiterated that despite the bad smell emanating from the plant there was no health danger to the public, because of the low mercaptan concentrations. However, mercaptan is very olfactory and can be smelled even in very low concentrations, they added.

Lubrizol, which temporarily shut down production at Rouen, said that the prefecture asked the company to “supply facts explaining the incident" in order to enable production to restart after completion of the clean-up.

By: Stefan Baumgarten
+1 713 525 2653

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