Sanofi shut down French plant over “astronomical” emission levels


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Sanofi announced yesterday that they have stopped production at their plant in the French Pyrenees following complaints that the factory has been “sending astronomical quantities of pollutants into the air.”

The environmental body French Nature Environnement (FNE), a federation which represents more than 3,000 local associations, filed complaints against the multinational pharmaceutical company Sanofi, demanding that the chemicals factory in the Southwest of France be immediately shut down.

The FNE said that the Sanofi plant, which employees around 50 employees, had been emitting “dangerous material at astronomical levels.” The organisation alleged that emissions at the plant in the French commune of Mourenx, were 7,000 times above the limit allowed by French law.

The French government said today that it was monitoring the situation to ensure that the pharmaceutical company had taken steps to prevent excessive pollution before it allows the plant to re-open.

Representatives from Sanofi stated: “Sanofi Chemical has decided from today to stop production at its Mourenx site and to carry out the announced technical improvements needed to return to normal.”

The Mourenx-based plant, which produces the epilepsy treatment valproate, was alleged to have been emitting the widely used solvent bromopropane, which can cause respiratory and skin infections as well as cancer. The FNE alleged that the solvent was being emitted at levels 190,000 and 90,000 times above legal thresholds during two testing operations conducted in March and October last year.

Sanofi admitted on Monday that there was “a problem of exceeding the threshold for the vapour waste of solvents.” However the company insisted that the local population had not been exposed to levels higher than those laid down by regulation.

Louis Goss