Following heavy rains in late May 2016 in the Ile de France (Paris) region, water was seen upwelling through sewer manhole covers located between the buildings housing the furnaces of a glass factory. The rising water spread through technical ducts and flooded the site. The operator initiated its internal emergency plan on 01/06 at 10 a.m. The decision was then made to evacuate the personnel. At 2:55 p.m., electrical power was lost and the generators took over. The maximum height of the water reached at the site’s lowest point was about 1 m in the southern zone of the site (flood peak on 02/06 at 8 a.m.).
During and after the flood, the operator ensured the following:
- maintain its production equipment in good operating condition (glass furnaces maintained at temperature), while ensuring that utility networks (gas, electricity, etc.) were maintained in service;
- ensure the safety of the site (difficulties of access to the installations, gas detection sensors inoperative, automatic extinguishing system inoperative, etc.);
- maintain internal and external communication (since the site’s automatic telephone exchange was no longer powered, telephone calls were made using mobile phones);
- be able to rapidly resume its activity (supply of specific materials, control of the condition of the installations).
The economic consequences of the event are estimated at several million euros. Much of this was related to operating losses, whereas property losses were comparatively lower. A partial shutdown period affected 78 employees.
Origin of the flood
The peak rise of the SEINE in Paris was equivalent to that of 1982 (6.10 m vs. 6.18 m), but the flooding of some of its tributaries reached levels above that observed in 1910 (notably on the LOING). The rising water was attributed to an exceptional level of rainfall throughout the month of May (the greatest amount ever recorded), with, since the weekend of 28-29 May, a significant stormy period followed by several days of intense precipitation. The flooding of the site was characterised by a rise in the water table combined with the overflow of the LOING Canal. The water then stagnated on the site.
The feedback elements drawn from this event include:
- the use of several specialists in the crisis unit;
- protection of certain equipment from water (pumps, cable sheaths, kiln pollution control equipment, safety equipment);
- the reliability of telecommunication networks;
- identification of vital equipment and a review of their location;
- drafting of a business continuity plan.