Frequently Asked Questions

The early morning of September 26, a fire impacted the drumming and warehousing assets of Lubrizol’s site in Rouen in the Normandy region of France. Since that time, employees across our global business have been urgently working with local authorities to ensure the safety of all involved. No one was injured in the incident. Our ongoing statements on this matter can be found here.

What Lubrizol material burned in the fire?

Understandably, questions have been raised about the mixture of Lubrizol materials burned in the fire. Lubrizol has completed a thorough evaluation of every Lubrizol material burned, down to trace levels. Materials that burned are components or ingredients that you would find in lubricating oils in cars, trucks and industrial machinery.

Lubrizol is confident that the Lubrizol materials burned in the fire pose no health threat, whether it be to humans or animals, other than the short-term irritation one would normally experience in the presence of smoke. More than 2,000 samples and 100,000 analytical results across soil, air, water, surfaces and food products by both Lubrizol and independent, third-party organizations confirm this.

During a fire of this magnitude, products will convert to their elemental form or oxides of the elements. More than 90% of the mix of elements in Lubrizol’s impacted products are comprised of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen, elements found in everyday environments, including soil and water. The remaining 10% are elements commonly found in products we use every day. See more details here.

Where can I learn more and get updates?

We understand the community has many questions. We intend to make regular updates to this Lubrizol website as more information is available.

Local residents can seek more information from the Prefect of Seine-Maritime here as it relates to regular updates local officials have made.

What is the current status of the investigation?

We continue to support local law enforcement in the investigation to determine the origin and cause of the fire.

The Lubrizol Rouen site produces lubricant additives, largely used in transportation and industrial applications.

For more information on Lubrizol, please see our Corporate Overview, which can be found here in several languages.

Everywhere we operate in the world, we are good neighbors, and we will be good neighbors by helping the local population in Rouen recover. We have worked with local officials and community groups to understand how we can best provide meaningful support to the communities impacted by the fire. See our latest commitments here.

We are sorry for the irritation and concern caused by the fire’s smoke, but we are also confident that the Lubrizol materials burned in the fire pose no health threat other than the short-term irritation one would normally experience in the presence of smoke. Learn more here.

Should I be worried about asbestos?

No. Testing has not shown any asbestos in the air.

How are you supporting additional testing?

A multi-phase testing program, funded by Lubrizol and executed by third-party experts, includes sampling of soil, watersheds and vegetables, amongst other natural mediums. Testing is already underway and more will be added overtime. We also are providing information as it's requested for all third-party testing.

Do you have chlorinated products on your site that would produce dioxins?

At our Rouen site, Lubrizol does not have products that are classified as chlorinated products--products with highly concentrated chlorine levels. Some materials may contain small amounts of chlorine (in the trace parts per million range), but we would not expect these to emit elevated levels of dioxin.

Some social and media reports are claiming an instance of an elevated dioxin reading tied to a report from Atmo Normandie. Do you have any insights on this?

The Atmo Normandie report says “one of the samples taken has a value which at face value appears unusual …however, it is not alarming.” On Oct. 10, 2019, the organization issued an update to further clarify this point.

 

Our objective across the company is zero incidents and zero injuries, and we are committed to continuous improvement of all health, safety, environmental and security measures.

  • We comply with all applicable standards for workplace health, safety, environmental and security.
  • We set clear and measurable safety goals that are reviewed and supported by management, and our employees are trained to proactively identify, reduce and manage safety risks.
  • We perform regular health, safety and security assessments in our plants, and all employees receive safety training. We also require our contractors to operate with the same high safety standards.

Was Lubrizol compliant with Seveso safety requirements at the time of the incident?

Yes, we are compliant with Seveso and other regulatory requirements that allow us to operate our Rouen facility.

How will future incidents be avoided in Rouen or anywhere?

One of the reasons we want to understand more about this fire is that we operate 60 sites around the world. Our objective across the company is zero incidents and zero injuries, and we are committed to continuous improvement of all health, safety, environmental and security measures. We will apply any and all learnings from this incident.

For more than 60 years, Lubrizol has been an active part of the Rouen and Normandy communities. Our work in Rouen provides more than 600 direct jobs and nearly 2,200 jobs when accounting for indirect jobs tied to the site. With the permission of authorities, we will seek to resume operations through a safe and secure phased approach starting with the most basic blending operations. See more here.

How badly was the facility damaged and how will employees be impacted?

Outside of the drumming and warehousing area, the Rouen site sustained little to no damage. Ninety percent of the site was not impacted by the fire.

What safety measures will you put in place to ensure a safe return to operations?

We are seeking a partial, phased restart of our most simple blending operations. We have discussed this with the DREAL and will work together to define a restart plan to ensure safety and security.

  • Raw materials would only be shipped into Rouen based on near-term production schedules. Finished products will be moved off site via trucks to be drummed and stored outside of Rouen. This represents an 80% reduction in the amount of drums stored on our site.
  • We have built a physical wall to separate the manufacturing plant from the burned warehousing and drumming portion of the site.
  • We will continue to clean the burned area thoroughly and safely, consulting regularly with DREAL and the DIRECCTE.
  • We will continue to minimize odor by treating the impacted area, in regular consultation with the DREAL.
  • We have inspected and treated all vents and utilities.
  • We have tested and will continue to test the robust fire protection system in the blending area.
  • We will host a lessons-learned session with the fire brigade to share learnings and best practices moving forward.
  • We will have restart sessions with all Lubrizol employees who will return to work in this area.

A neighboring site was also impacted by the fire. How do you work with Normandie Logistique?

Lubrizol has utilized Normandie Logistique for years to store Lubrizol materials. The Lubrizol products stored at Normandie Logistique are non-hazardous materials based on SEVESO classification parameters.

Utilizing external warehouses for storage of goods is a common practice by businesses across industries globally. We did this in complete compliance of all laws and regulations and with the knowledge of local officials, including the DREAL. 

What are you doing to contain odors?

We are doing everything we can to minimize any odors related to our Lubrizol site, including removing drums and materials impacted by the fire and using a mist to control odors. Please note there are two sites involved in the fire. Our neighbor site was impacted by the fire, and they would also have to separately control odors coming from their site.

What are you doing about the damaged drums on your site? How are you removing those safely?

Our team worked very closely with the local Prefecture on how to best remove drums impacted by the fire, doing so safely while neutralizing odors. In conjunction with our team and local officials, a team of regulated treatment experts will work to remove the drums over the coming weeks and transport them offsite for treatment.