Notre Dame area closed off for lead contamination removal

Elias Hubbard
August 14, 2019

Workers on Tuesday started cleaning lead-contaminated areas surrounding the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris following a devastating blaze in April that damaged the building.

When the fire ripped through the Gothic building, hundreds of tons of lead melted, spewing toxic dust into the air.

On July 25, fix work on the landmark was suspended after labour inspectors raised concerns about workers' safety.

Authorities have launched multiple lead prevention operations: cleaning up neighbourhood schools, de-toxifying surrounding streets, and setting up a stricter new decontamination zone for experts working inside the cathedral.

Police blocked off two streets and a bridge around the cathedral as part of the decontamination mission, installing high fences to keep both Parisians and tourists out. The gel attracted the lead particles as it dried and was later removed, according to city authorities. Another method will feature high pressure water jets with chemical agents. The overall operation is expected to take about three weeks. Authorities started clearing the area around Notre Dame ahead of decontamination and cleanup work which will resume on August 19 after new equipment and stricter safety procedures ensure workers are not exposed to unsafe levels of lead following the fire earlier this year.

Meanwhile, a separate new decontamination zone is being set up for workers who have been clearing hazardous wreckage from inside the cathedral to ensure that there is no pollution outside the site.

However that debris cleanup is still just a first step - to ready the cathedral for a massive, multimillion-euro reconstruction effort.

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