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.
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.
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.
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.
No. Testing has not shown any asbestos in the air.
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.
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.
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.
Yes, we are compliant with Seveso and other regulatory requirements that allow us to operate our Rouen facility.
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.
FM Global has been our property insurer since 2008. Every year, FM Global performs evaluations of the risk of property loss at our Rouen site. FM Global evaluations focus on opportunities to progressively reduce the risk of property loss and business interruption and are not focused on human health and safety or environmental risks.
FM Global recommendations identify continuous improvement opportunities and do not reflect regulatory requirements. The Rouen site, including all of our equipment, met all health, safety, or environmental regulatory requirements at the time of the fire.
Using FM’s recommendations as well as inputs from experts in mitigating health, safety, and environmental risks, we continuously prioritize site enhancements with the greatest risk-limiting potential. Prioritizing actions that would have the most impact on reducing these risks (as well as FM Global’s most impactful property loss mitigation recommendations), we have invested nearly €100 million in improvements at the site since 2008. Prioritizing site enhancements at Lubrizol is a matter of acting with urgency to reduce all kinds of risk, not saving money.
We are pleased to have received approval for a partial restart of our operations in Rouen. As we have stated, 90% of our site was not impacted by the fire, though we have stood idle since September 26. Resuming partial operations through a safe and secure phased approach ensures the livelihood of thousands of direct and indirect employees, families, customers and suppliers who depend on our work in Rouen, all of whom have already sustained considerable impact.
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.
Amongst the safety measures in place:.
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.
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.
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.