Fire engulfs Paris' Notre Dame cathedral

Notre Dame cleanup to resume despite lead scare, lag in promised donations

Authorities in Paris are pledging to push ahead with the cleanup of the city’s burnt cathedral of Notre Dame despite a lead scare and a lag in promised donations to rebuild the monument.

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The Associated Press reported Saturday that the decontamination and cleanup of the cathedral – burnt in April in a devastating fire – will resume August 19.

That’s after authorities pledged to bring in new equipment and new safety procedures in response to labour inspectors’ concerns last month that reconstruction workers were being exposed to unsafe levels of lead.

Hundreds of tons of the metal in Notre Dame’s roof and spire were melted in April’s blaze.

Along with cathedral workers, a total of 162 children in nearby schools have been checked for lead poisoning.

One young boy was deemed to have “at risk” levels of the metal. He along with sixteen other children will continue to be monitored by medical professionals.

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The pledge to recommence the reconstruction of Notre Dame comes after the French Government signed at the end of last month a series of agreements on the financing of the cathedral rebuild.

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The Ministry of Culture said the agreements would provide for the “rigorous and transparent” management of donations for the reconstruction effort.

That effort will be managed by the French State, which by a 1905 law is the owner of the cathedral and hence the contracting authority.

But of the 850 million euros pledged after the fire, to date just 10% has been paid by donors.

On top of the lack of funds, Notre Dame rector Patrick Chauvet admitted Friday that Church authorities still do not have an estimate of the final reconstruction cost.

“Today, we cannot assess the extent of the damage. That will only come when the site is clean and secure”, Chauvet affirmed.

The priest said the Vatican would not be committing financial resources to the rebuild, but he said the Church had no plans, for the moment, to charge tourists an entrance fee to the monument.

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