Lubrizol France has been indicted for environmental damage caused by the fire in September of its Seveso classified factory in Rouen, the causes of which remain unknown, the Paris prosecutor’s office announced on Thursday.
The group is under investigation for “spillage of harmful substances” and for failures in the operation of its factory that have caused “serious damage” to the environment. A total of 9,505 tonnes of chemicals had burned in the fire which had caused a 70 km long black smoke cloud.
The company is accused of “not having taken all measures to prevent the significant spread of the fire and the environmental damage which resulted from it,” said a source familiar with the matter.
Placed under judicial control, the group will have to pay a bond of 375,000 euros and constitute a “security” of 4 million euros to repair the “human and environmental damage” possibly attributable to the fire, details the prosecution.
The indictment of the group comes within the framework of the judicial investigation opened on October 29 to shed light on the causes and the circumstances of the fire, and which was widened at the beginning of January to possible breaches of security.
In this context, the company Normandie Logistique, whose warehouses adjoin the Lubrizol factory and whose warehouses were destroyed by the incident, is for its part placed under the intermediate status of assisted witness, said the prosecution on Thursday.
“At this stage of the judicial investigation, the investigations carried out do not make it possible to determine the causes of the fire or to locate its origin,” also said the press release.
Lubrizol is since 2011 under the control of the American billionaire Warren Buffett, via its holding company Berkshire Hathaway which had bought the group for 9.7 billion dollars.