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Ecology Minister Royal opposes Australian toxic waste shipment to France

French Ecology Minister Ségolène Royal
French Ecology Minister Ségolène Royal Reuters/Charles Platiau

French Ecology Minister Ségolène Royal is trying to stop Australian chemical giant Orica shipping highly toxic waste to France for incineration, claiming there is a danger of marine pollution.


Orica wants to send 9,000 tonnes of hexachlorobenzene (HCB) - a solvent manufacturing by-product and suspected human carcinogen - to the town of Salaise-sur-Sanne in south-east France.

Australia has no disposal facilities and has been trying to outsource the incineration of the HCB for years.

Royal said the transport of such waste was an “ecological aberration” and feared possible marine pollution if something happened to the ship.

Waste should be disposed of where it is produced, she argued on Friday, offering to export the French technology used at the plant to which Orica wants to ship the HCB.

This is Orica's third attempt to ship the carcinogenic pollutant, which has been banned in Europe since 1981.

French environmentalists have long been opposed to the move.

Jean-Luc Perouze, founder of the association "Vivre" based in the southern part of the Rhône valley where the waste would be treated, told RFI that campaigners will continue to put pressure on the government to refuse the waste.

A previous plan to ship some of the waste to Denmark fell through in 2010 when the Danish government reneged on a deal after protests by Greenpeace.

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