Industrial risk accident in toulouse and now what consequences
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Industrial risk / Accident in Toulouse : And now, what consequences ?. Certu. Kick-Off Conference, 24 th & 25 th February 2005, Certu, Bernard Guézo. Accident in TOULOUSE. September, the 21 st , 2001.

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Industrial risk / Accident in Toulouse :And now, what consequences ?


Kick-Off Conference, 24th & 25th February 2005, Certu, Bernard Guézo


September, the 21st, 2001

Presentation with the help of Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Development, BARPI (Governmental office) and INERIS.

SETRIC Kick-Off Conference, 24th & 25th February 2005, Certu, Bernard Guézo


The plant, its surrounding,

…the accident.

AZF, Toulouse September 21th after the explosion


  • General data :- 470 employees ; created in 1924 (ONIA)

  • Production :

  •  Fertilizers section :

  • ammonia, nitric acid, urea, Ammonium nitrates (industrial : 400t/j ;

  • granulated fertilizers : 850 t/j)...

  •  Chemical products :

  • - melamine (70 t/j), chloroderivatives, glue,…

  • Raw materials :

  • - Natural gas, - chlorine

  • Operator :Grande Paroisse

  • Geographic data :

  • - Located North part of the

  • town of Toulouse

  • - Covering a 70 ha-area

  • 3 km from the centre of the town,

  • On the left bank of Garonne river.

  • Classified Seveso site for :

  • - Chlorine storage (56 t x2), - Ammonia storages (5000+1000+315 t),- Ammonium nitrate storages

THE PLANT and its surrounding

By-pass way and railway

Closest houses and stores


Town’s bus warehouse

Workshop where the explosion occurred

Garonne River

THE PLANT inside the built-up area

The surroundings of the site :

Other industrial plants : chemical industries or specialized chemistry

Public buildings :

- Schools, stores and department stores, hospitals

Main roads : motorway junction, bypass,

High density of population in the neighbourhood

Controlled perimeters :

Adopted in 1989

Land use planning concerning 1 130 people

The area near the plant

Warehouse involved

 Located : North part of the plant

 Dedicated to storage of “out of standard materials”

 Licensed for 500 t AN : 21th September, about 300 to 400 t of AN were stored.

 Workshop operatedby shipping department using sub-contractors.

The accident itself…

  •  Very violent detonation

     Equivalent to 3.4 on Richter scale

     Equivalent to 20 to 40 t TNT (estimation INERIS) and 60 to 126 tons (estimation judicial experts)

  • Elliptic crater


    10 m-depth

Which causes ?

Judicial experts’ hypothesis

(report dated the 5th of June, 2002 – First conclusions)

3 kind of hypotheses :

 Terrorist attack or Arson : hypothesis not adopted.

 External accidents (meteorite, part of plane ; electric arc ; electric defect inside the site… Theory not adopted.

 Chemical cause :AN not pure ; soil covered by polluted crust ; if particular chemical product, violent reaction possible with AN (confirmed by laboratory tests). Probable cause.



Human, material, economical.

Human consequences…

Human losses

- 30 fatalities

 8 people out of the site including 1 pupil

22 employees (including 1 employee of a neighbour industrial site)

- A lot of irreversible injuries

Human consequences…

People injured :

About 2500 people officially registered and 5000 who declaresomatic or psychological effects

 780 people sent to hospital amongst whom 30 in critical conditions

 Estimated 3500 people affected (according to emergency services)

Main effects :

 Somatic effects due to the blast :traumas, fractures, injuries, pulmonary affections or ear, nose and throat, eye affections, …)

 Psychological effects : Numerouspost-traumasyndromes,

States of depression, due to deterioration of living/working conditions

Material consequences…

Outside the site :

 About 30 000 houses or flats destroyed or seriously damaged

 1800 families re-housed

 Most of the windows broken in a 7 km radiusSeveral educational establishments were closed temporarily(11 colleges and 2 schools, 79 primary schools / 185 in Toulouse, universities, …)

Economical consequences

On the site :

 North part of the plant destroyed

 Significant damage on chemical plants in the neighbourhood

Other economic impacts :

6 factories of the chemical platform shutdown (including La Grande Paroisse, definitively stopped)

1 000 companies affected in various ways(20 000 jobs, 100 000 m² damaged area …)

Main measures taken

for population

 Emergency fund (>18 M€) raised from regions, Government, departments, cities, public companies population - 44 000 files registered

 Peoplefollow-up committee for :

Compensations, rights of victims, psychological support

 Epidemiological follow-up :

Sanitary Vigilance was instituted through scientific and institutional committees

Epidemiological and environmental follow-up

  • Two directions for investigations :

  • A particular medical survey was made on :

    - Employees (chemical platform and other sectors of the town) and safety people) 50.000- Pupils and teachers of the different schools about 3700

  • Other population (general survey).

  • An environmental survey was made on : - air, water, soil.

Epidemiological follow-up

Main first results

  •  Psychological troubles were major impact :

  • Estimation : 5000 people consulted a doctor for stress symptoms).

  •  hearing symptoms :

  • - Detection of hearing problems was necessary amongst people in a radius of 1,7 km-area at the moment of the explosion


New laws in France,

a greater governance,

a greater implication for local authorities in risk management.

First new law :30th July 2003

To reduce risk, by

1/Solving most difficult situations both in terms of hazard and urban neighbourhood,

2/Controling future

To develop public information and participation.

To increase participation of employers and subcontractors

To improve the financial compensation for the victims.

Second new law : 13 August 2004

Public safety

Government requires local authorities with major risk (natural or industrial) to prepared an emergency plan

2 laws in a short time :

On the Seveso sites :

Reduction of hazard: Ex : to decrease the volume of dangerous substances storages

Reduction of probabilityof a potential accidentby physical or non-physical protective barriers: ex : to improve the maintenance of equipments, to confine ammonia tanks…

On the territory :

 Restriction of urban development

Improving the situation for existing residents or activities

Public Information and consultation : Creation of local Committees,public meeting organised during processes of authorizations, more detailed information by the sellers of a property.

To reduce the risk :

Multi-layer risk prevention and mitigation















TRPP (Technological Risk Prevention Plan)

Measures are correlated to the intensity of the risk

To decrease the risk




Constructive Measures

Try to find a better governance(Industrials, Government, Local Authorities)

 By a financial share consequences of the risk reduction

  •  By the analysis of the best balance between hazard reduction and land planning possibilities

  •  By increasing discussion between whole partners during the administrative process

And for Local Authorities ?

 How to be prepared to face an accident

with its consequences for :

population, activities, city management ?


Environment general inspection report :

Available on the web-site of MEDD

http:// www. environnement. /publications

Commission of the French parliament Report :

Available on the web-site of the “assemblée nationale”

http:// www. d’enquête

Intermediate report of the Sanitary Vigilance Institute :

Available at the following address

http:// www. invs.

List of significant accidents which involved AN

Available on the BARPI web-site :

http:// www. aria . environnement. gouv. fr

Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable development

http:// www.


Thank you for your attention

SETRIC Kick-Off Conference, 24th & 25th February 2005, Certu, Bernard Guézo

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