Wednesday, March 31, 2021
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under a beautiful story of energy transition, a dirty business of rubble

In the classified massif of Sainte-Baume, it is a spectacular trace of the construction of the Toulon tunnel, launched in the 1990s to relieve congestion in the city center. A vast plateau covered by a field of solar panels, and formed of … 312,000 tonnes of excavated material. In barely two years, a 22-hectare plot has been disfigured.

However, justice has been lenient with the owners, “sentenced to a fine of 5,000 or 6,000 euros, ridiculous amounts given the masses of money that have passed through here”. This is what explains Robert Durand, a retired geologist.

Over 600,000 tonnes of waste in nature

According to the law, a construction company must deposit its rubble in professional waste reception centers or in specialized landfills, which costs around 250 euros per truck. By getting rid of it illegally for much less, she makes great savings … and the fortune of the individual with whom she deals. Contacted, the owner of the plot claims to have touched “Approximately 200,000 euros”.

It details how these illegal deposits were done: “Me, my employees had a form that the driver filled in by saying ‘such truck number, how many tonnes’. I had a voucher for him, a voucher for the driver, a voucher for the principal who was Bouygues , in the end. There were three or four sheets, and each one had one. Everyone knew that! ”

Multinational construction companies in action

The prefecture ended up intervening, and the Bouygues group affirms that “its teams immediately turned to sites whose management fully complied with the legislation”. No legal action has been taken against the companies of the group responsible for the construction of the Toulon tunnel.

In 2011, the irregular excavation of this enormous site was nevertheless denounced by the prefect, in a letter to the president of the PACA region. According to this letter, at least three unauthorized sites have been recipients of these tons of rubble between 2007 and 2009 in the Provençal hinterland. In all, more than 600,000 tonnes of waste from the Toulon tunnel ended up in the Var countryside.

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The owner who stored the spoil from Bouygues was required by the courts to restore his land. Instead, he sold it … to the Lafarge group. Since then, the world leader in concrete lined it with photovoltaic panels in 2016 … in partnership with Engie, the French number one in solar energy. A great story of energy transition …

Excerpt from “Illegal discharges, a French scandal”, a document to be seen in “Further investigation” on March 25, 2021.

> Replays of France Télévisions news magazines are available on the Franceinfo website and its mobile application (iOS & Android), “Magazines” section.

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