Notre-Dame Cathedral's square closed after tests again reveal presence of toxic lead

Photo: AFP

The square in front of Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris has been closed to the public after tests again revealed high concentrations of toxic lead particles, the Paris police department said Tuesday, AFP reports.

The fire that ravaged the 13th-century monument two years ago melted some 300 tonnes of lead panelling in the roof, spewing the metal across large swathes of the city.

Exposure risks prompted authorities to forbid access to several areas and even some schools during extensive clean-up operations, with blood tests urged for children and pregnant women.

The square was reopened a few weeks after the fire, with officials promising regular testing of the site.

"Results from the most recent tests showed lead dust concentrations higher than the normal levels for Paris at certain points in the square," the police department said in a statement.

It will reopen after a new cleaning operation and "all readings are back to sufficiently low levels", it said.

While the spire collapsed and much of the roof was destroyed on the evening of April 15, 2019, the efforts of firefighters ensured the great medieval edifice survived the blaze.

But the lead risks delayed work on clearing debris and launching the restoration effort for the gothic landmark, which President Emmanuel Macron wants open for visitors in time for Paris's hosting of the 2024 Summer Olympics.

Investigators have yet to determine the cause of the blaze, but they have said an accident, possibly caused by a short circuit or discarded cigarette butt, remains the most likely explanation.

Similar articles

  • Spain considers including Ceuta, Melilla fully in Schengen area

    Spain considers including Ceuta, Melilla fully in Schengen area

    Spain's Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya announced on Tuesday her government is considering including Ceuta and Melilla, Spain’s enclaves in North Africa, fully in Europe’s passport-free Schengen area, Reuters reported. Currently, Moroccans from the towns surrounding the enclaves can enter without a visa, but need one to travel by sea or air into continental Spain or other Schengen member countries.

  • Opposition in Finland wins local elections, seen as test for PM’s party

    Opposition in Finland wins local elections, seen as test for PM’s party

    An opposition center-right party came top in Sunday’s local election in Finland, surpassing the PM Sanna Marin’s ruling Social Democratic Party, news wires reported.  With all votes counted in the Nordic nation’s municipal election, initial results showed on Monday that the conservative National Coalition Party had taken 21.4% of votes nationwide, while the Social Democrats took 17.7% and centrist government member Center Party 14.9% respectively.