On the deserted beach, shells and large rubbish… On Tuesday morning, Noëlle, 53, was skating along the sea when she saw the disaster: shapeless bundles of rubbish thrown by the waves or thrown into the sand. After the torrential rains that poured over Marseille on Monday, the predicted disaster therefore took place: waste that has not been collected ten days after a garbage collector’s strike, were swept downstream, on their way to the Mediterranean.
Although the sun had returned, it was not a question for Noelle to swim, as she does all year round, but to put on green gloves and again and again “three big bags full of cans, bottles, anti-Covid masks, dead rats and a whole heap of dirt,” she laments, a hand on her kidneys to ease her aching back.
Some twenty other garbage bags, set up on the beach of Prado, testify to the speed with which a handful of residents spontaneously tried to stop the massive influx of garbage on the beach of Épluchures, the nickname that local surfers have given to it. beach in the Prado district. The Huveaune flows into it nearby. By flooding the day before, this coastal river carried up to five thousand tons of waste. Social networks, in turn, carried these filthy images, boosting the reputation of the 2nd largest city in France, regularly picked for its filth, and donkey hat in terms of selective sorting a bit bigger (15 kg per inhabitant per year against 70 on average ).
“Fortunately we can feel a sense of awareness here”
On Tuesday, the town hall of Marseille (socialist and ecological) took action to accuse the metropolis of Aix-Marseille, led by LR Martine Vassal, of having expected nothing, while the storm was announced by Météo France. Since coming to power in the summer of 2020, she has called for this jurisdiction to be returned to the municipality. A political deadlock that draws a disillusioned pout of environmental advocates.
VIDEO. Floods in Marseille: rivers of waste in the streets … and to the sea
“We are lucky to be in one of the most beautiful ports in the world, between sea and creeks, and here is the result, repulsive with ugliness”, annoys Georges Édouard, founder of “1 Déchet Per Jour”, one of many Marseille associations that fight against this endemic plague. “Fortunately, we’ve been feeling a growing awareness here for two or three years now. The Covid also played a role, by reconnecting people to the fragile beauty of nature,” he wants to believe.
A race against the clock
If the disaster was again only visual… “It is an ecological disaster, stresses Isabelle Poitou, who has been struggling at the head of the Mer-Terre association for more than twenty years. It starts with a strike by garbage collectors and in the end it’s the dolphins that ring glasses,” sums up the biologist. “Everyone now knows the irreparable damage this causes to ecosystems. wave your ass or his plastic bag on the floor, it’s no longer negligence, it’s participation in a deliberate crime against the environment,” she yelled angrily, between anger and fatigue.
Several associations have planned cleaning actions from Wednesday, during which dozens of volunteers will be mobilized. They are planning another one this weekend, after the announced three days of the mistral. The wind should carry some of the waste back to shore, they hope. A race against time: “Everything that remains at sea is swallowed and then taken by the fish. The strike and the floods have not helped anything, but this disaster is all the time ”, emphasizes Céline Albinet, co-director of the association Clean My Calanques. “On a daily basis, Isabelle Poitou adds, it is worse than an oil spill. “