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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

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
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 area near the plant

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.

2 laws in a short time

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 :

To reduce the risk

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
Multi-layer risk prevention and mitigation















Trpp technological risk prevention plan
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
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
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