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France's southern coast threatened by highly corrosive substance leak

A highly corrosive chemical substance has leaked into the sea off the southern coast of France.

The incident occurred at a petrochemical plant owned by polyvinyl chloride production giant Kem One in the town of Martigues, near Marseille.

The company told news agency AFP the incident was acknowledged at 01.50 am on Wednesday morning "at a ferric chloride solution storage tank in the production workshop of the Kem One site of Lavéra".

This highly corrosive chemical, which is used in particular for the treatment of wastewater, turned into a brown substance as it flowed into the sea, forming a toxic layer of about six hectares at the Auguette cove.

Forty men from the Marseille fire brigade battalion (BMPM) and ten firefighters were sent to the scene.

The leak has now stopped, but authorities have banned boating, fishing and swimming activities in the area between Ponteau beach and Cape Couronne, in the Gulf of Fos.

An investigation has been launched into the incident.

France's Minister for the Ecologic Transition Barbara Pompili said on Twitter that "any damage found will be repaired by those responsible."

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