In early November, the expert committees mobilised by the authorities (the French Ministry for Land-Use Planning and the Environment and, in Rennes, the Prefect in charge of the Western Defence Zone) specified the characteristics of the risks generated by the styrene and the measures to be taken to protect responders and, where relevant, coastal populations (in the case of inhalation of styrene vapours or consumption of seafood that had absorbed styrene).
At the initiative of the national expert committee set up by the French Ministry for Land-Use Planning and the Environment, several experiments were launched at Cedre’s facilities to study the behaviour of styrene at the water surface, the risks of polymerisation in the vessel and contamination of seafood (crabs, mussels and oysters), in the event of a leak, with analysis by Rouen’s municipal laboratory and olfactory tests by IPSN (French Institute for Nuclear Safety and Protection).
Observations and measurements
At sea, in addition to navigation policing duties and protective actions for seafarers, the French Navy, in close cooperation with the British authorities and resources, coordinated detection operations and pollutant measurements. Regular monitoring around the wreck was conducted from French Customs and British MCA aircraft (planes and helicopters) to detect any traces of pollutants at the surface.
Using these resources and those of French maritime affairs, air and water samples were regularly taken for the Western defence zone expert committees. Most of the samples were analysed by the French Navy laboratory LASEM in Cherbourg. Onshore and in Aurigny, for the first weeks following the incident, the Marseille Navy Fire Department and a Civil Protection Unit were placed under the authority of the Prefect for the Channel to set up a network to detect styrene vapours in the atmosphere. All the measurements taken were negative.
Meanwhile, IFREMER also set up a monitoring network for the quality of the marine environment, analysing samples of water and living matter.