AZF incident: the State has been cleared of any charge
LES ECHOS ON DEC.17TH
In a decision released on Wednesday, the Council of State wrote that the administration was cleared of any charge, which would have triggered the AZF plant explosion in September 2001.
Wednesday, the Council of State (the highest administrative court in France) revoked a decision of the Bordeaux administrative appeal court, which charged the State as being responsible in the AZF plant explosion, and which awarded a € 2,500 indemnification to a nearby resident couple, who claimed for a material and moral damage compensation. According to the French highest administrative jurisdiction, there were no “guilty incompetence in the exercise of the control power of the administration, awarded by the regulation”, wrote the decision released on Wednesday.
In a decision dated January 24th, 2013, the administrative appeal court of Bordeaux decided that the State made a control mistake: the court deemed that the State institutions in charge of classified facilities control did not do their job properly. The January 2013 decision directly came from the criminal sentence delivered on September, 24th 2012, by the appeal court of Toulouse against the plant operator: the Grande Paroisse company, then a Total subsidiary, and the former plant manager, Serge Biechlin, under an involuntary homicides charge.
On September, 21th 2001, in the morning, the AZF plant (AZF meaning AZote Fertilizers) of Toulouse was destroyed because of the explosion of 300 to 400 tons of ammonium nitrate, causing casualties amounting to 31 persons, among which 21 staff, and causing some 2,500 injuried, 14,000 victims with psychological and auditory troubles combined with many material destructions. The explosion made a 70 m large crater with a seism of 3,4 on Richter scale. Up to 2005, Grande Paroisse company owned the plant, located 5 km far from Toulouse centre.
The disaster led to the implementation of a “Bachelot regulation”, dated July, 30th 2003, about prevention of natural and technological risks and about damage compensation. This law features four essential points: -a duty to inform residents when a wide scale disaster happens; -the awareness campaign to risks targeting staff and subcontractors; -urbanization mastering with the definition of risk areas, then -the definition of the concept of technological risks.
Links to go further indepth about AZF incident