• New twist in the Stocamine file!

  • A court decision calls into question the final burial of 42,000 tonnes of toxic waste in this former potash mine located in Alsace.

  • The government now has two months to lodge a possible appeal with the Council of State.

The Stocamine file is still not closed.

A new twist even took place on Friday.

While the government had ruled in January in favor of the final storage of 42,000 tonnes of toxic waste in this former Haut-Rhin mine, the justice system halted the work, which was about to be started.

The Administrative Court of Appeal of Nancy (Meurthe-et-Moselle) indeed annulled the prefectural decree which authorized the burying "for an unlimited period" of non-radioactive hazardous waste (asbestos, arsenic, mercury, etc.) stored in this area. mine, under the water table of Alsace.

The Court justifies its decision by the fact that the company des Mines de potasse d'Alsace (MDPA), which operates Stocamine, does not justify "financial capacity enabling it to carry out the unlimited exploitation" of the site, or to assume “all the requirements” represented by this mission.

Immediate consequence of this decision: the first concrete pourings, planned for the beginning of November to form impermeable plugs preventing access to waste, will ultimately not take place.

But the court decision does not nevertheless call for the recovery of waste, demanded by many local actors but rejected by the Ministry of Ecological Transition, in particular because of the dangerous nature of the mine, some of whose walls are collapsing.

"The State must review its copy with us"

The European Collectivity of Alsace (CEA) and the Alsace Nature association, which had brought the case to court alongside the Grand Est region, welcomed the decision rendered. "This is excellent news, I was really worried about the risk of permanent landfill for future generations," said Frédéric Bierry, President LR of the CEA. “This allows us to get back around a table to rework on the possibilities of destocking. The state must review its copy with us. Total destocking may not be possible, but partial yes, ”he added, calling on the State to take“ its financial responsibilities ”.

"It's a satisfaction, of course, but there is also regret for all the time wasted to reach a conclusion that we could have arrived at much earlier", reacted Yann Flory of the Destocamine collective, who fights against this landfill site since 1989, and of which Alsace Nature is part.

The president of the Grand Est region, Jean Rottner (LR), asked him on Twitter "an emergency meeting of all public and private actors" to find solutions.

#Stocamine I take note of the decision taken #CourdAppel.

It obliges the @gouvernementFR to take its responsibilities.

The security announced was obviously not at the rendezvous.

Solutions must be found.

I request 1 emergency meeting of all public and private actors pic.twitter.com/YfFPfKmYfq

- Jean ROTTNER (@JeanROTTNER) October 15, 2021

For its part, the Ministry of Ecological Transition regretted that this decision "postpones again an intervention which was finally decided after twenty years of procrastination", and this in a context where "the collapse of the galleries of the site will make any intervention impossible. after the end of the decade ”.

The storage of 320,000 tonnes of non-radioactive hazardous waste criticized

The operation of the Stocamine site was authorized in 1997 for thirty years, in order to convert this end-of-life potash mine into an underground industrial landfill, and to store 320,000 tonnes of non-radioactive hazardous waste there, at a depth of 535 meters. .

But in 2002, a fire in a storage space interrupted operations, when 44,000 tons had already been lowered.

Since then, studies have multiplied to highlight the dangers of removing toxic waste, but also the possible risks of their confinement on the environment and the important water table in Alsace.

Under François Hollande's five-year term, the state had decided to withdraw 93% of waste containing mercury and to contain the rest.

Then a prefectural decree had authorized in March 2017 the “unlimited” confinement of waste still underground.

Faced with the discontent of local communities and environmental defense associations, the State then again considered exhuding other waste.

But Minister Barbara Pompili had ruled in favor of final containment, to the chagrin of local actors.

The government now has two months to lodge a possible appeal with the Council of State.

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Keywords: the administrative court of appeal, site, waste, decree, actors, court decision, potash mine, government, appeal, landfill, place, lr, burial, council, favor