A Notre-Dame decontamination project recaled by the Ministry of Culture, according to Mediapart


A Notre-Dame lead decontamination project proposed by a specialized design office, which provided for the protection of construction site workers and residents, was rejected by the Ministry of Culture, reveals Mediapart, who refers to the testimony of his author.

Following the lead contamination of the Notre-Dame cathedral after the fire on April 15, a decontamination project, and protection of workers on the construction site and residents, proposed by a specialized design office not retained by the Ministry of Culture, reports Mediapart, which reveals the testimony of the author of the project.

A consulting firm solicited

This specialist in risk prevention and site safety, who wished to remain anonymous, was asked by the Ministry ten days after the fire.
Despite 400 tons of lead being dusted off, representatives of the Heritage Operator and Real Estate Projects (Oppic) asked the man to remove the protective mask on arrival at the scene to avoid not "scare everyone".
Field analysis has shown that "it is necessary to intervene very quickly to implement collective protections, to protect not only the workers who did not wear the personal protective equipment against the risks of lead poisoning, but also local residents since the project was absolutely not confined, "says a report written by the research department, which Mediapart has read.

A significant amount of lead

In addition, the risk of collapse of the building, the presence of lead dust "in large quantities and thick" and waste "of construction likely to be contaminated" was highlighted in the document. As the specialist states, "no installation met the security requirements" at the time.
The consulting firm proposed to secure and confine the building to avoid the risk of collapse and allow workers to clean up the area by zone. Two to three months were planned for this stage, while the dismantling of the entire site was to last until the end of the year. The main idea was to protect people who might be in contact with the cathedral:

"We naturally proposed to take into account the streets and buildings nearby, exposed to lead pollution. The idea was temporarily to put under waterproof and resistant containment, under the bell construction site, both outside and inside, "said the specialist.

Site inspectors, interviewed by the media, expressed themselves in favor of this project: "It would have made it possible to avoid continual pollution on the construction site and outside" and to guarantee "better working conditions", says one of them.

Decommissioning airlock out of service

After this proposal was not accepted, decontamination chambers were installed inside the cathedral by the Ministry of Culture. However, they did not work for several months, announced Mediapart, returning to one of his previous revelations.

Even though the alert on the risks of lead intoxication for employees was launched on May 6 by the labor inspectorate, the site was finally suspended only two and a half months later, on July 25, by the prefect of Île-de-France. Work resumed on August 19, while "new facilities will be put in place this fall to switch to the regime essential to the site."

"An unacceptable denial of risk"

"When we learn that a depollution of the site was possible and that it was refused by the ministry, it is an unacceptable denial of the risk that the lead represents", criticizes Annie Thébaud-Mony, director of honorary research to the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm), quoted by Mediapart.

She spoke of the benefits that this project represented: "The first is to limit pollution in the environment of the cathedral, thus protecting residents and workers and the second is to ensure a better organization of work on the site, preserving the health of employees ".

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