Toxic waste landfill in France: The little aces on the upper Rhine

arsenic, asbestos, cyanide: For the past 20 years of garbage stored in the Südelsass poison in the potash mine Stocamine – and a threat to the groundwater of th

Toxic waste landfill in France: The little aces on the upper Rhine

arsenic, asbestos, cyanide: For the past 20 years of garbage stored in the Südelsass poison in the potash mine Stocamine – and a threat to the groundwater of the Rhine plain.

wittels home, France, blockage of the toxic waste landfill Stocamine in the former potash mine photo: Vincent Voegtlin/dpa/picture-alliance

BERLIN taz | steel post support by hanging the salt ceiling, side walls, break to the inside. In between, squeezed in warehouses stacked on pallets of white plastic bags filled with waste, with tons of highly toxic industrial. In it: Everything from arsenic to asbestos and cyanide.

Some of the chambers of the toxic waste landfill Stocamine in a former potash mine in wittels ' home in the Südelsass, 30 kilometers from the German border, will not be entered in about five years probably. "This waste is a tremendous threat to our ground water," says Philippe Foreign, a member of the Alliance Destocamine.

Since the beginning of the storage 20 years ago, the coalition of 14 environmental and trade Union organisations are demanding that the garbage brought up and properly disposed of. "We know that at some point the water enters the Mine, then we have a huge Problem on the upper Rhine," says Foreign.

The Mine is located directly on one of the largest groundwater reservoir in Central Europe, that stretches from Basel to Mainz, the Rhine valley through it. German activists call them the "little aces" from the upper Rhine to the nuclear waste storage repurposed salt mine near Wolfenbüttel, by the already water spills.

the middle of the year to decide, in the French state, whether he gets the toxic waste from the shafts, or between the salt layers embedded in concrete. On Sunday, the local elections start in the whole of France. "We want to use, in order to bring the local politicians to take Action," says Foreign.

Axel Mayer, activist

"There is the myth that the environmental movement is make everything more expensive. Here is the counter-example“

Basically, these are behind the Alliance: the mayor, the skin Department-Rhin and also the cross-country Oberrheinrat of Mine are for the eviction. However, the Ministry of environment in Paris verschleppe the urgent decision for years, find many critics.

42,000 tons of industrial waste has been stored in 600 meters depth in the vicinity of Mulhouse. At the opening in 1999, the company Mines de potasse d'alsace (MDPA), 300,000 tonnes of special waste was planning to store them there. Were not approved for combustible materials such as contaminated soils, residues from the incineration of waste, as well as chromium, mercury, and asbestos-containing substances.

But when it burned down in 2002 in the Mine, stopped MDPA project. Studies then showed that there is already in 120 years, with the Penetration of groundwater. MDPA had kept the salt layers, at least another 1,500 years for sure.

In the year of 2014 has begun, for the water is particularly hazardous mercury-containing waste from the Mine out to get. Three years, the recovery took; the 2,000 tons of camps since then, in the Thuringian town of mine Sondershausen. What happens to the remaining waste is unclear. "No one knows exactly what is stored down there," says Foreign, "and therefore, the French state does not want to get the Rest up."

In March 2018 politicians*met locally from the Alsace, Department Haut-Rhin, and the surrounding communities with the then environment Minister, François de Rugy, who gave a study on the recovery of the waste in order. The result was confirmed seven months later, what was long since known: Because of the danger of collapse of the mine, the clearance is challenging, but by 2025 it's possible.

The French state holds, but the risk for the workers is too high. The former mining engineer, Hans-Willi, believes, Knows, that this reason was only a pretext. During the evacuation of the Quecksilbermülls, he worked as a machine operator underground: "If you do it mining correctly, the recovery definitely is possible." The French state, the costs are too high, says English.

France waits The longer it is, the more expensive it will be. Every year, the salt is pushed further into the Mine: about seven centimeters and thus much faster than at the opening of the landfill be accepted. The Department of Haut-Rhin estimates that complete cleanup is likely to cost 250 million euros.

Axel Mayer, a former managing Director of the FEDERAL Southern upper Rhine, followed the dispute Stocamine since the beginning. "The basic problem of the cheap solutions are," says Mayer. "There is the myth that the environmental movement is make everything more expensive. Here is the counter-example.

you Would have would be on the critical voices to be heard and certain substances are not stored, it is more beneficial for the company to become.“ That polluted groundwater, after Germany, is not afraid of Mayer on the other hand: "The ground water flows to run in the Alsace region, parallel to the Rhine, the water then flows in the direction of Strasbourg to the North."

Nevertheless, the resistance against Stocamine is a cross-border basis. The Oberrheinrat – with representatives from County and national level, France, Germany, and Switzerland, adopted in June 2019 a Resolution. In it the Council expresses concern that the "pollution of the Rhine groundwater would cause long-term much higher costs than the complete outsourcing of the special waste landfill."

The French Ministry of the environment responds to the fears of reluctant. Currently, it is waiting for the results of a further study, which will appear in the middle of the year. This Time, the office investigated a partial evacuation of the landfill.

at the same time, the Central government continues to work on the plans, the waste-to-walling "as Long as there is no decision, we have hope," says Foreign. "But with each of the study years pass and we race against time." The Activists fear that the authorities will hesitate more. Until there is a proper clearance to be late.

Date Of Update: 10 March 2020, 15:00

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