the waste storage authorization canceled by the courts

New twist in a case almost twenty years old: the administrative court of appeal of Nancy has just lifted a major obstacle to the extraction of 42,000 tonnes of chromium, cyanide, arsenic, asbestos, and other toxic waste buried in Wittelsheim (Haut-Rhin), in the galleries of StocaMine, by canceling a prefectural decree of March 23, 2017, which authorized their storage “For an unlimited period”. For those in favor of their withdrawal, it was urgent: after completing the preparatory work for the containment of the site this summer, its operator, the company MDPA, was preparing to pour the first cubic meters of concrete constituting future dams. It is now forced to suspend its work.

Opened in February 1999, the StocaMine landfill center used the old galleries of a potash mine, located more than 500 meters deep, to store hazardous and toxic waste. Originally designed as a reversible solution, the site only operated for three years, until a fire called into question its operation. Since then, residents, associations and elected officials have been fighting to ensure that buried waste is brought to the surface. Several studies have, in fact, revealed a risk of flooding galleries and upward flow of polluted water in contact with the Rhine water table, considered to be the largest reserve of drinking water in Europe. Approximately 95% of mercury waste was indeed removed between 2014 and 2017, but, following this, the company MDPA, a state subsidiary in charge of operating the site, was granted an authorization to store the waste. remaining waste, together with site containment measures subsequently making any access impossible.

The public not sufficiently informed

It is this authorization that the Haut-Rhin department, then the European Collectivity of Alsace, the Grand-Est region, as well as the Alsace Nature environmental defense association, contested before the administrative jurisdiction. A last-chance operation for supporters of waste disposal, while the Minister for the Ecological Transition, Barbara Pompili, had confirmed, in January 2020, the decision taken by her predecessor to permanently bury them. The Nancy Administrative Court of Appeal finally considers that the MDPA company, in liquidation since 2009, does not have the technical and above all financial capacity to carry out the project and assume all of its requirements, in particular the monitoring of the project. long-term site and the possibility of intervening there if necessary. It also notes that the public was not sufficiently informed of the new storage conditions occurring after the 2002 fire.

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