Red mud pollution: outrage in Marseille

Les Calanques, southern France. Photo source: ©© D. Goodson


Environ un millier de personnes se sont rassemblées aujourd’hui devant la préfecture des Bouches-du-Rhône à Marseille pour dénoncer “le scandale des boues rouges”, l’industriel Altéo ayant été autorisé à poursuivre des rejets d’effluents dans les eaux du Parc national des Calanques.

Thousands of people marched in Marseille’s street today to protest against “the red mud scandal”, where Altéo industry, specialized in the industrial production of aluminum, has been granted the right to continue rejecting its hazardous waste product (aka bauxite residues) into the marine environment of the Calanques National Park.

After 50 years of polluting the Mediterranean with its rejection of red mud into the sea, the aluminum industrial Altéo, has yet obtained this past November, a renewed authorization to dispose of its hazardous bauxite residues into the sea, claiming the waste material is now press filtered. Opponents believe the process still pollutes the marine environment.

Read Full Article: “Boues rouges : manifestation à Marseille,” Le Figaro

A Marseille, « colère rouge » contre les boues rouges, Le Monde (01-30-2016)

Effects of red mud on marine animals, Science Direct
Red mud is a waste product in the reduction of bauxite in the production of aluminium. The exact composition of red mud depends on the source of the bauxite and its treatment during production. This variation has been responsible for conflicting reports about the damage caused by dumping red mud at sea…

Permis de polluer dans les Calanques, Huffington Post
La Méditerranée étouffe. Le berceau de notre civilisation accueille sur ses berges 150 millions d’habitants et bon nombre d’industries polluantes. Exploitation d’hydrocarbures, extraction de minerais dans les fonds sous-marins, surpêche, tourisme de masse ou industries lourdes : n’en jetez plus, la mer déborde !

Licence to pollute the Calanques National Park;
The Mediterranean sea is suffocating. The craddle of our civilization counts 150 million inhabitants along its shores and yet many polluting industries as well. Oil and gas exploitation, offshore deep sea mining of minerals, overfishing, mass tourism and heavy industries are polluters that need to stop littering the sea, the Mediterranean sea is oversaturated.
In France, the latest scandal to date plays as the Bouches-du-Rhône local executive, following instructions of the french Prime Minister, granted authorization to the industrial producer of aluminum Altéo, to dispose of the waste material into the sea, in Cassis Bay. The government justifies the decision on the account that the environmental agency invited to attend a negotiating meeting, had boycotted it thus failed to raise its case.
The undersea Meditterannean canyon of Cassidaigne has been reduced to a mere repository for one of the most polluting industry of the world.
This south of France site in La Gardanne, is actually the last mining industrial company in the world to reject red mud into the seawaters! (Greece stopped in 2011, and Japan in 2015.)
Altéo has installed a new press filter processing and separating the solid and liquid wastes, but this does not reduce the harmful effects of these discharged hazardous residues. Red mud toxicity has been proven countless times. Arsenic, lead, titanium, chromium, nickel, cadmium etc. discharged in seawater, are ingested by the fishes that eventually end up on our table plates’. This is a major health and environmental scandal.The company knows it, the Government knows it, but all remain silent in the name of job security. This is not acceptable. The company does have the investment power to better handle the appropriate treatment of its waste material.
Red sludge, a hazardous waste generated by the industrial production of aluminum, must be regarded as dangerous and toxic.
By granting this renewed authorization to discharge toxic wastes in the protected Calanques National Park, the local Executive not only places France in conflict with The European Law, but also contradicts the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean against Pollution.
Action must and will be taken, national and european legal remedies ought to be sought.
Take action, and join our online petition at