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Paris officials accused of failing to protect locals' health after Notre Dame fire

A legal complaint alleges that authorities endangered lives by failing to react to the risk of lead poisoning.

Image: Shutterstock/Loic Salan

PARIS CITY AUTHORITIES have been accused of failing to safeguard the health of people living near the Notre Dame due to lead pollution caused by the fire that nearly destroyed the monument two years ago.

People living near the French cathedral, along with a trade union and the anti-pollution association Henri Pezerat, have filed a legal complaint against authorities and public health officials.

It alleges that public authorities endangered lives by failing to react to the risk of lead poisoning.

“Despite the scale of the fire and knowledge about the risk of pollution and contamination… no precaution in particular was taken by the authorities involved for more than three months after the fire,” the complaint says, according to a copy seen by AFP.

It says that 400 tonnes of lead in the roof of the Gothic masterpiece melted or were dispersed as microparticles over the French capital during the devastating blaze on 15 April 2019.

“Children (in creches and schools), neighbours and workers have clearly been exposed to the risk of lead exposure,” the complaint added.

“These facts amount to the crime of endangering the lives of others.”

The square in front of the cathedral, which is being rebuilt, was closed again to the public in May this year after tests revealed high concentrations of toxic lead particles.

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Several months after the fire, city authorities ordered a deep-clean of schools in areas close to the cathedral, while children and pregnant women living nearby were urged to have blood tests.

The complaint says that the city, run by Socialist mayor and presidential hopeful Anne Hidalgo, withheld information from school directors and failed to act promptly.

The complaint also targets the city’s police department, the culture ministry and regional health authorities.

© AFP 2021

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