Nanda Gonzague, Living in Sevesia, from PRIVATE 37 – an Ecological Question
[Sevesia: Country whose invisible borderline delimits here and there the different alert zones under Seveso II instruction. These areas are characterized by the risk of a major industrial accident on man and nature.]
The road that goes to Ponteau au Port (Bouche du Rhône, South France) is blocked. A chlorine leak, from the Naphtachimie factory, has been announced constraining people to stay in their homes. Near the town of Sète, in the Hérault region, there are thousands of people living in areas where the hazardous contamination is high because of the presence of three Seveso II classified factories. In the Gulf of Fos the fishing trade has given way to the to-and-fro of super tankers, transporting loads amongst the refineries of one of the most important petrochemical compounds of Europe. In September 21st 2001 an explosion that blew away the A.Z.F. factory in Toulouse killed thirty people and wounded thousands of others. Industrial accidents throughout the world are not new. The most notorious amongst them have become historical references, such as the catastrophes of Feyzin (France, 1966), Seveso (Italy, 1976), Mexico City (Mexico, 1984), Bhopal (India, 1984), Protex (France, 1987) and La Mède (France, 1992). These events dramatically remind us that mankind has naively integrated within itself insidious elements of great danger. Why deny that mankind is relentlessly getting closer to a level of risk that will need to be contained? Whole communities are living in an ambiguous context in which employers benefit from this hazardous industrial presence whereas the population and the environment are endangered.
Thirty years after the Seveso incident in Italy and four years after the A.Z.F. factory explosion, many areas in Europe have been placed under the jurisdiction of the Seveso II directive. There are an estimated million people living in separate alert zones.