This was one of the commitments Emmanuel Macron made during the One Ocean Summit, in Brest, last February, to combat ocean pollution: to reduce coastal landfills that pose the greatest risks of dumping waste into the sea. ‘A major environmental threat’ by the governmentAnd Three sites have since been identified as priorities, and this year will benefit from financial aid to start construction sites: the Dollmard landfill in Le Havre, the Fouras-les-Bains landfill in Charente-Maritime, and the Anse Charpentier landfill in Martinique. A government plan has been announced that aims to make all coastal landfills healthy within ten years.
What is a coastal hazardous landfill?
It is a waste storage area located less than one hundred meters from the coast, subject to erosion or marine inundation. In total, there are 55 ancient dumps (about 40 in mainland France and about 15 overseas) involved, according to a count by the Bureau of Research Geological and Mining (BRGM), the National Geological Service, revealed in February. Inventory is not exhaustive and subject to change, depending on reports submitted by municipalities and associations in the field. “We call on societies to come forward”, He insists on BRGM, which stresses the difficulty of locating these sites, which have sometimes been abandoned for decades.
Among the most exposed, the Pre-Magnot landfill is located in Forras-les-Bains in the Charente-Maritimes, about fifty meters from the Atlantic Ocean. Until the 1980s, this landfill was used by the surrounding municipalities, which dumped their waste there. Then, “With the new regulations to protect the environment, it has been covered in the ground and gradually forgotten”, The city’s deputy responsible for coastal and environmental protection, Eric Simonin explains. Other sites, banned or gradually closed, are located directly on the seashore, due to global warming leading to “Sea-level rise and rapid coastal erosion”Details of the Ministry of Environmental Transformation. Today, the danger is that the latter discharges its waste into the sea, especially in the event of a storm.
What are the environmental risks?
There are many harmful elements in old landfills: asbestos, batteries, metals, scrap metal … there “A real danger to animals and plants due to plastic”, And they’re not biodegradable, warns Natalie Daniel, project manager for the Environmental Society Echo-Mer. Antoine Bruges, project manager at the NGO Surfrider, details: “This plastic is present in the bodies of marine animals as soon as they are ingested,” It can block the digestive and respiratory systems. Pollution can also lead to the development of invasive plants, to a decrease in the diversity of existing plant species as well as animals. But “This is not the only problem, Antoine Brugge adds. There are also batteries, televisions, paint cans… which, when they decompose, release their content which ends up in groundwater. “ Mercury, lead, copper .. many heavy metals pose significant risks, as well as lithium or other harmful products. After certain limits, it becomes toxic to the body, and even carcinogenic to some.
To reduce these potentially dramatic environmental impacts, the government plans to support the communities concerned, in particular by financing rehabilitation work of up to 50%, through funding implemented by the Agency for Environmental Transformation (Ademe), awarded for 2022 in the amount of 30 million euros.
How do you deal with waste?
There are several solutions to absorb the discharge. “Everything does not necessarily involve the removal of waste, Benjamin Roqueblan, chief of the Ademe Urban Arid Lands and Contaminated Sites Department, confirms. The goal above all is to avoid drifting in the sea, and there is no single possible answer. Locally, measures have already been taken to avoid dumping waste. On the island of Terre-de-Bas, in Guadeloupe, for example, the old landfill was examined: “No one has access to it and everything has become a plant”refers to the municipality.
In the Fouras-les-Bains municipal council, which is taking advantage of the state’s subsidy system this year, three options were considered. The city’s deputy, Eric Simonin explains: “Build dams, prevent erosion and scrape the surface, or, depending on the solution chosen, completely remove waste and remodel the area. It is a solution for the future that does not include future generations.” A sorting platform will be built on site to separate all waste. These will then be sent to designated centers in France. Construction will begin in December, according to the municipality. In one year, 12,000 cubic meters of waste must be completely evacuated and the site rehabilitated. A tour by force is repeated in other French landfills.