Rouen. A giant wall of grease in the sewers: eight controlled restaurants, rue du Gros-Horloge

What you need to know when you arrive in Rouen (Seine-Maritime).  We try to give you some clues.
The investigation continues to establish responsibilities after the formation of a giant fat wall in the sewers of the rue du Gros-Horloge in Rouen. (©FM / 76 news)

It was unheard of: a fat wall 40 meters long and up to 1.40 meters high blocked the sewers from rue du Gros-Horloge to Rouen (Seine-Maritime), Wednesday March 9, 2022. This incident, revealed by our colleagues from Paris-Normandy, led to a major intervention by the Métropole services the same day, then to control operations carried out by the hygiene services of the City Council and the Metropolis on Thursday, March 24.

“These operations were aimed at checking the facilities, remembering good practices and identifying anomalies in terms of hygiene and safety”, specifies Amèle Mansouri, assistant in charge of hygiene and sanitation, who participated in the checks. They took place in eight restaurants at the same time. No responsibility has yet been determined pending additional information to finalize the report, but a series of clues could attribute a good part to the McDonalds restaurant.

“Non-compliant original installations”

These inspections focused on how to manage and process used oils and edible fats. For seven of the controlled restaurants, “we were able to identify common law anomalies that will be managed with the City’s hygiene and sanitation service”, indicates Amèle Mansouri. Regarding McDonalds, whose internal network was clogged with grease, “we see that there are original facilities that do not comply with current regulations,” says the assistant.

A sewer to collect garbage was discovered. Upon removal of the slab, it was found to be used as an axle box. “There we discovered food waste,” said the assistant. It also turned out to be well below the size of the establishment’s catering activity. The elected official evokes in effect “an extremely limited capacity, around 50 liters, while McDonalds makes no less than 600 tapas per day, not counting the 300 delivered”. A device that “is not adequate and does not comply”, he underlines.

Another issue refers to the management of used oils. They were stored in the technical room in 200-litre barrels for oil and food waste. “These barrels do not comply. There was an absence of labeling and strapping. We are still waiting for additional elements to track and make visible the collection process of these oils. To this is added “the presence of fatty elements in the soil” with access to the siphon.

“Behaviors must change”

In cooperating with the city, McDonalds management has so far been “extremely responsive” in providing the necessary documents and information to the city. The establishment has indicated that it has taken steps to address anything that is not in compliance. The request would have been made two months ago and is due to obligations related to the expansion of the reception area, and not due to anomalies detected during controls, according to the elected official.

“McDonalds has not admitted being responsible for this wall of grease that damaged the sewer networks of rue Jeanne-d’Arc,” he also specifies. Asked, the brand has not yet responded to the wording. Once the conclusions have been made, the executive of the Metropolis, in charge of managing the network, must decide on the follow-up that will be given to the repairs. The uncorking operation would have cost about €15,000.

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Amèle Mansouri affirms that she wants to “eradicate old practices” and make people understand that “safety, health, preservation of the environment, heritage and public works are a collective responsibility”. “We will have no tolerance at this stage. We will be extremely rigorous and behavior must change. »

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