In a port zone, 28 of the 44 vertical cylindrical concrete cells of a 37,150-tonne cereal silo exploded during the transfer of corn from a lorry to the port storage facilities. The silo was nearly full, and the intermediate gates provided most of the empty storage capacity. The emergency “red plan” was activated. Ten employees and 1 fisherman were killed; their bodies were found several days later under the rubble. Another employee was seriously injured. Debris splattered over a 100-m radius; many projectiles reached some of the storage tanks at a neighbouring facility and transfer pipes running between the tanks and the public wharf burst. Damage to nearby dwellings (shattered windows, falling plaster, etc.) was observed over a distance extending roughly 500 m from the silo. The site would eventually be razed. Total damage was appraised at 160 million francs.

The investigation, mandated by the Environment Ministry, took 8 months to complete in mobilising 2 third-party inspectors full time. Among potential causes of the dust explosion that spread through the silo, two were cited : mechanical shocks or friction around the fan on the central dust removal circuit; and a fire outbreak due to self-heating at the level of the dust storage bin. The company was fined 1 million francs and placed under judicial supervision for 3 years; the site director was given an 18-month suspended jail sentence and fined 58,000 francs. The measures listed in the 11th August, 1983 Ministerial order relative to silos were updated. Another order issued on 29th July, 1998 established new regulatory obligations specific to the design, location and overall layout of installations, as well as to risk prevention requirements.

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