‘Astronomical’ emissions leads to temporary closure of French pharmaceutical factory

July 19th, 2018

A French pharmaceutical company has temporarily stopped activities in one of its sites after the release of “astronomical” emissions of a chemical substance into the air.

A facility in southwestern France run by Sanofi, one of the world’s leading pharma companies, was recently found to be releasing 7,000 times the authorised amount of the volatile organic compounds, Bromopropane, which is classified as toxic for reproduction, according to the European Chemicals Agency.

In March, the emissions of bromopropane, a substance present in the antiepileptic drug Depakine, were190,000 times above the safe limit. The emissions reached 380,000 mg/m3, well above the legal limit of 2mg/m3.

A report released in May by DREAL, the body in charge of regional coordination of the environmental policies of the government in France, revealed the emissions levels in the Mourenx factory.

The environmental groups, France Nature Environment and Sepanso 64, asked for the factory to be immediately shut down last week, with Sanofi announcing a temporary closure for “technical improvements” in order to “understand the causes of the situation”.

“It is a step forward,” the vice-chairman of Sepanso 64, Cathy Soubles, told The Green News. She doesn’t want to talk about “a victory”, however, and the groups are expected to file a complaint against Sanofi soon.

Ms Soubles added that she regrets the time it took to reveal the story and the time lost while the emissions were still going on and reached “astronomical” levels.

Irish pharmaceutical firms

In the past 20 years, the number of biopharma companies in Ireland increased from 50 to 300 and the industry is now the “largest generators of hazardous waste in Ireland”, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Some pharmaceutical firms in Ireland have also been through scandals concerning their emissions levels. For instance, Takeda Ireland Ltd pleaded guilty and gave €5,000 to charity for breaking environmental regulations in Dublin, reported the Irish Examiner last May.

The values of the emissions were three times above the limit of the company’s license. The firm has said that is has since cooperated with the EPA to reduce its emissions levels,

An Bord Pleanála recently granted planning permission to Indaver for a waste incinerator in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork despite its own inspector’s recommendation to refuse the project.

Cork is home to several large pharmaceutical facilities that will “need the waste treatment services the center will provide,” according to Indaver.

[x_author title=”About the Author”]

Related Post
Phil Hogan resignation is a chance to bring trade “in line with climate ambition”
Press conference of Phil Hogan, Member of the EC in charge of Agriculture and Rural Development, on the Common Agricultural Policy after 2020.

28 August 2020  The resignation of Irish EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan is an opportunity to bring trade policy in Read more

EU must use “full potential” of recovery fund for climate action
European Commission Photo: Jai79/Pixabay

21 July 2020 EU leaders must use the “full potential” of the bloc-wide recovery funds to boost climate action, a Read more

EU net-zero target for 2050 would be “surrender”
Greta THUNBERG, Swedish climate activist Photo: European Union / DAINA LE LARDIC

16 July 2020 The EU’s current target of net zero emissions for 2050 equals “surrender” to the climate crisis, a Read more

Biden’s new climate plan, explained

15 July 2020 Presumptive US Democratic nominee Joe Biden announced another chapter of his climate plan yesterday. His plan, he Read more