Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is still at risk of collapse after being gutted by a fire in April, with more stonework falling during the recent heatwave, the French Government said yesterday. Source: Yahoo7 News.
France's culture ministry insisted that the urgent need to make the cathedral safe had dictated the pace of the works, following criticism that it had ignored the risks of lead poisoning.
The ministry said in the aftermath of the fire all work on the cathedral had been aimed at avoiding its collapse, and had not yet involved any kind of restoration.
"There were recently new falls of stones from the nave vaults due to the heatwave," it said. "It is only the urgency linked to the persistent risk of a collapse that justifies the rhythm of work undertaken" since the fire.
President Emmanuel Macron has set an ambitious target of five years for the restoration to be finished. But the ministry said restoration work would not even begin until next year.
"The first restoration works will not take place – at the very earliest – before the first half of 2020," it said.
Hundreds of tonnes of lead in the roof and steeple melted during the April 15 blaze that nearly destroyed the gothic masterpiece, with winds spreading the particles well beyond the church's grounds.
Workers have begun a 10-day lead decontamination of the area surrounding the cathedral, The Tablet reports.
In June, a child living on the Île de la Cité island in central Paris where Notre Dame is located was found to have high levels of lead in a blood test, leading health authorities to urge children and pregnant women living near to the cathedral to have the levels of lead in their blood checked.
An area measuring 10,200 square metres is to be decontaminated. Officials say workers will spread gel on public benches, street lights and other fixtures to absorb the lead, letting it dry for several days before removing it. They will also use high-pressure hoses with chemical agents.
The decontamination work is expected to last until August 23.