Sanofi closing plant in France after pollution complaint filed with government

Sanofi will close the plant in Mourenx where it makes epilepsy treatment Depakote after a group filed a complaint saying that it was producing dangerous emissions that were 7,000 times above the limit allowed by French law. (Sanofi)

In a series of quick actions, a conservation group accused a Sanofi plant in France of massive pollution, Sanofi moved to close the plant and pledged to address the issue and government regulators jumped in saying they would monitor the situation to ensure that happens.

France Nature Environment filed a complaint on Sunday with a regulator that emissions from the manufacturing plant in Mourenx were polluting the area, Reuters reported. France Nature Environment said one of the emissions is bromopropane, which it says can cause cancer and respiratory and skin infections.

A Sanofi spokesperson did not respond today to a request for comment, but on Monday Sanofi told Reuters that it would stop production at the plant, which has about 50 employees, by the end of the week and begin steps to reduce the emissions.

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"We are fully aware of the importance of the issue," a Sanofi spokesman told the news service. "An action plan has immediately been implemented on site and a collecting unit was set up to treat emissions and reduce them significantly. This unit is being started," the statement said.

Additionally, the drugmaker said it had an independent organization to assess possible effects on local populations, which found they were not at risk. The French government told Reuters today that it was keeping an eye on the situation at the Mourenx plant and won't reopen it unless it has taken steps to cut the pollution there.

The plant, which is in southern France near the border with Spain, makes Sanofi's epilepsy drugs Depakine and Depakote, as well as Depamide for bipolar disorders.

According to Sanofi, significant investments have been made at the plant over the last decade to upgrade the storage facilities, quality-control laboratory, finishing areas and waste treatment.