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French court fines Total subsidiary and former manager over fatal 2009 petrochemical plant explosion

14 June 2016

On June 13 the criminal court at Sarrguemines (Moselle) found Total Petrochemicals guilty over the 2009 blast at its Carling plant that killed two and injured six. The company was fined €200,000 and a former manager of the petrochemical plant at the time of the accident was handed a one year suspended prison sentence and fined €20,000.

Stock image
Stock image

The blast at the plant in the north-east of France, a Seveso 2 site, occurred when workers tried to restart a steam cracker after several days of closure caused by storm damage. Three of the injured suffered serious burns.

The court concluded that the major reason for the incident was site management had for many years deliberately turned off a safety device. It said that the explosion would not have occurred if flame detectors had not been disabled.
The judges rejected the company's argument of human error and said the inexperience of operators and the age of the facility were also factors.

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