“Le Pong” – Gas Leak at Rouen Lubrizol Plant Spreads Foul Stench, Nausea From Paris to London

via BBC:

French Lubrizol factory struggles to stop foul gas leak

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Emergency workers at the Lubrizol factory in Rouen, from where foul smelling industrial gas has leaked Emergency workers are hoping to stop the leak on Tuesday

Staff at a chemicals factory in north-western France are working to stop a gas leak that has spread a foul smell to Paris and south-east England.

French Ecology Minister Delphine Batho said she was heading for Rouen, where the factory is located, to oversee operations to deal with the leak.

Thousands of people, from as far away as Paris and London, have complained of nausea and headaches.

The gas is reported to be mercaptan, a harmless additive to natural gas.

It leaked on Monday from a plant run by a French subsidiary of the US chemicals manufacturer Lubrizol near Rouen, 75 miles (120km) north-west of Paris.

Winds blew the cloud over northern France on Monday night and then into England on Tuesday.


A cloud of foul-smelling but harmless gas has leaked out of a factory in north-western France, drifting across the Channel and prompting complaints from Paris to south-eastern England.

The leak is blamed on a chemical factory in Rouen, and many residents compared the odour to diesel fumes.

Police in Kent and Sussex said they had received a large number of calls from people worried about the odour.

The gas is reported believed to be mercaptan, an additive to natural gas.

It leaked on Monday from a plant near Rouen, 75 miles (120km) north-west of Paris. Winds blew the cloud over northern France on Monday night and then into England on Tuesday.


“Nobody smoke” people joked on Facebook when they first started to whiff what is being called “Le Pong”.

Some have described it as smelling like rotten eggs while have others have detected notes of stale cabbage.

But for most people, the odour is reminiscent of diesel fumes.

It all stems from a gas leak at a chemical plant in Rouen, which is more than 60 miles north west of Paris.

The substance responsible is mercaptan – a harmless additive to natural gas.

But while it might not be toxic – it doesn’t half smell.

Tunbridge Wells in Kent is 120 miles north of Rouen but on Tuesday morning, Le Pong was certainly in evidence.

It seemed to come in waves, wafted across the Channel on the chill January air.


via tvmeioambiente.com:

“Its arrival on British shores brought a flurry of calls to local police and the National Grid’s gas emergency line, with the latter reporting 60,000 calls by 10am on Tuesday, as against a normal daily total of 10,000. Official reassurance often came via Facebook and Twitter, with Hastings police using the self-explanatory #noneedtopanic hashtag.

Alarm was, inevitably, replaced on social media by a welter of flatulence jokes and jibes at neighbouring towns accused of always smelling that way. Before too long the semi-official term Le Pong emerged, seemingly coined by a Portsmouth newspaper.”


“It’s not so much a leak as a product that has decomposed, which smells very bad and which is escaping,” Pierre-Jean Payrouse of Lubrizol told RTL radio. “An investigation is under way but our priority is to deal with the problem.”

Some French people remained sceptical about the safety assurances. “Everyone says there’s nothing to panic about,” one woman, Patricia Cousteau, was quoted as saying in the Paris Normandie newspaper. “But they said the same thing about the Chernobyl cloud.”



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Thiol with a blue highlighted sulfhydryl group.

In organic chemistry, a thiol (pron.: /ˈθˌɒl/) is an organosulfur compound that contains a carbon-bonded sulfhydryl (–C–SH or R–SH) group (where R represents an alkane, alkene, or other carbon-containing group of atoms). Thiols are the sulfur analogue of alcohols (that is, sulfur takes the place of oxygen in the hydroxyl group of an alcohol), and the word is a portmanteau of “thio” + “alcohol,” with the first word deriving from Greek θεῖον (“thion”) = “sulfur”. [note 1] The –SH functional group itself is referred to as either a thiol group or a sulfhydryl group.

Many thiols have strong odors resembling that of garlic. Thiols are used as odorants to assist in the detection of natural gas (which in pure form is odorless), and the “smell of natural gas” is due to the smell of the thiol used as the odorant.

Thiols are often referred to as mercaptans.[2][3] The term mercaptan is derived from the Latin mercurium captans (capturing mercury)[4] because the thiolate group bonds so strongly with mercury compounds.[5]



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lubrizol Logo.JPG
Type Subsidiary
Industry Chemicals
Founded 1928
Headquarters Wickliffe, Ohio
Key people James L. Hambrick (CEO)
Products Lubricant Additives; Specialty Chemicals
Revenue $5.4 billion (2010)
Employees 6,900
Parent Berkshire Hathaway
Website http://www.lubrizol.com

The Lubrizol Corporation, a Berkshire Hathaway company, is a specialty chemical company that produces and supplies technologies, which are designed to improve the quality and performance of products in the global transportation, industrial and consumer markets. Headquartered in Wickliffe, Ohio, United States, Lubrizol holds a base of approximately 1,600 patents as of October 2011. The corporation is divided into two distinct segments, the Lubrizol Additives division and the Lubrizol Advanced Materials segment. Lubrizol operates production facilities in 19 countries, with sales and technical offices throughout the world, through the efforts of more than 6,900 individuals.

Lubrizol sells more than 12,000 products in over 100 countries. The company has two major business segments: Lubrizol Additives (LZA), a leading global supplier of fuel and lubricant additives for transportation and industrial applications; and Lubrizol Advanced Materials (LZAM), a leading global producer of advanced specialty polymers, polymer-based additives and chemical additives for a broad range of consumer and industrial applications. The Lubrizol Corporation is on Fortune magazine’s list of the 500 largest companies in the U.S. Based on 2010 revenues, Lubrizol moved up in the ranking order to 423 from 453 the previous year. On the basis of 2010 profitability metrics, total shareholder return (TSR) and earnings per share growth, Lubrizol was the top performing company among the 16 chemical companies that are on the Fortune 500.[1]

Lubrizol also moved up in the ranking order in the Forbes magazine’s Global 2000 to 1,220 from 1,249 the previous year. The company ranked number 20 globally in their industry sector of specialty chemicals. Unlike the Fortune 500, which is a ranking solely on 2010 revenues, the Forbes Global 2000 ranking is based on a combination of revenues, net income, assets and market value.[2]


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