Lubrizol employees in France think they've seen this smoke plume before


In Rouen, France, residents heard of the fire in Rockton through headlines that read (in French) Lubrizol site in flames in the USA less than two years after the fire in RouenBlack smoke and flames: roughly the same images as in Rouen in September 2019. That's because on September 26, 2019, a similar fire took place at the Lubrizol factory in Rouen, the city in Normandy where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. Unlike the fire at the Chemtool facility in Rockton, which is a subsidiary of Lubrizol, the Rouen fire only affected 10% of the factory. French government tests taken that afternoon found no abnormal air pollutant levels, except benzene at one site. Water pollutants were also within acceptable levels.

According to France 3 Normandie, local municipalities requested Lubrizol France to help pay for the cleanup in Rouen. The Seine-Maritime government accused the company of "dumping harmful substances" and for breaches that caused "serious damage" to the environment. Around February 23, 2021, Lubrizol France sought to have these charges thrown out because of "procedural irregularities."

After the news from Rockton reached the city of Rouen this week, Lubrizol France issued a press release: "For many residents of Rouen and the surrounding area but also for all of our employees, this event revives memories of the fire of September 26, 2019. Since that date, our company has learned all the lessons from the fire and has taken measures to strengthen the safety and security of its facilities at its French sites."

The Twitter account of the Union Des Victimes De Lubrizol (Union of Victims of Lubrizol), referring to a French autotranslation of Lubrizol's news release, tweeted:

Why could we have written this #lubrizol release for them? Same scenario, same #transparence and same #smokescreen as in #rouen. And in 20 months, he will plead not guilty and be #PolluterNotPayer #Dejavu

Simon De Carvalho, president of the Lubrizol Disaster Association, told France 3 Normandie  (roughly translated from French) that the company seems to be doing a better job of handling the Rockton fire:  

"It's really the same pattern that we experienced here in Rouen. These are the same chemicals, in my opinion. They also cleared the area 1 mile.. They accompanied the residents to get away from this burning factory, something that here... We were not even warned of this fire... to secure ourselves as was done in the United States. There is really a culture of risk brought here to Rouen."

Lubrizol, which is headquartered in the United States, has promised its Chemtool employees will continue to receive pay and benefits, even counseling services, while they deal with the tragic fire. 

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