The torrential rains and floods which occurred Monday in Marseille had an unexpected impact: they carried tons of waste on the beaches and at sea, relaunching the debate on the cleanliness of the city.
On the beach at L’escale Borély, in the south of the city, thousands of cans littered the sand on Tuesday, October 5. On the mounds of plastic, rubble and tires dumped by the torrential rains, voluntary local residents got busy to pick up the accumulated waste. “It is frequent in Marseille, every year, at the same period, we have strandings of waste with the rains, but there, in addition, there was a strike by garbage collectors, mountains of waste everywhere, got wind, the bags were ripped open… “, explained to Agence France-Presse Isabelle Poitou, biologist at the head of the MerTerre association.
Between Sunday and Monday, up to 180 millimeters of water were measured in Marseille. The Huveaune river, in flood, overflowed its bed and carried away piles of rubbish, including gas bottles, refrigerators and even auto parts. “Horror images”, denounced, Tuesday, the deputy mayor for the environment Christine Juste (Europe Ecologie-Les Verts): “We have been working to change the image of Marseille for a year (…) and there, it is damaged ”.
From “the gutter policy”, according to the metropolis
At the origin of the disaster, according to her colleague Mathilde Chaboche, various left assistant to town planning, “A completely anachronistic land management policy”. Under previous terms, she accuses, “We continued to concrete everywhere”, forgetting “Completely that nature needed space where water could flow”. It is also “A question of pipes”, she adds, Marseille sorely missing “A rainwater drainage network”.
Municipal officials accuse the metropolis, in charge of cleanliness and waste management, for not having been able to anticipate this meteorological episode, certainly exceptional but predictable, by having the garbage collected urgently in the weekend after a week’s strike by cleaners. “The second largest city in France must recover its skills in terms of both cleanliness, roads and waste”, thus affirmed Mme Fair, considering that, unlike other metropolises in France, that of Aix-Marseille-Provence has no “A real metropolitan project”.
“Using a natural disaster to play gutter politics is unworthy of responsible elected officials”, replied the elected representatives of the right-wing majority in the metropolis in a press release. On Twitter, Martine Vassal, president of the Republicans of the metropolis, assured, photos in support, that the agents were ” at work “ and cleaned up the beaches.
Call for volunteers
Far from controversy, on the beaches, associations and residents continued to bustle Tuesday, fearing the mistral announced in the days to come which could bring back other waste. “Because of the wind and the waves, the cleaning will have to last over several days and I call on all goodwill to swell the ranks of associative volunteers, because each waste collected counts”, asked the mayor various left of the 6e and 8e arrondissements, Pierre Benarroche.
At sea, the Marseille firefighters have initiated aerial surveillance of the coasts to identify pollution and organize their collection. Many marine protected areas are located off Marseille, especially in the Calanques National Park, the most visited in France, at the gates of the city.