Marseille’s beaches buried under tons of rubbish after severe weather

A beach in Marseille buried under rubbish after heavy rain on Monday 5 October.

The torrential rains and floods that took place in Marseille on Monday had an unexpected impact: they transported tons of rubbish to the beaches and at sea, reviving the debate about the city’s cleanliness.

On the beach at L’escale Borély in the south of the city, thousands of cans lay in the sand on Tuesday, October 5th. On the mounds of plastic, rubble and decks thrown by the torrential rains, volunteer local residents got busy picking up the accumulated garbage. “It’s frequent in Marseille, every year, in the same period, we have strandings of rubbish with the rain, but there was also a strike from garbage collectors, mountains of rubbish everywhere, got wind, the bags were torn to pieces open », explained Agence France-Presse Isabelle Poitou, biologist at the helm of the MerTerre Association.

Between Sunday and Monday, up to 180 millimeters of water were measured in Marseille. The Huveaune River, in flood, ran over its bottom and carried away piles of rubbish, including gas cylinders, refrigerators and even car parts. “Horror Pictures”, condemned, Tuesday, Deputy Mayor of the Environment Christine Juste (Europe Ecologie-Les Verts): “We have been working to change Marseille’s image for a year (…) and there it is damaged ”.

From the “gutter policy”, according to the metropolis

At the cause of the disaster, according to her colleague Mathilde Chaboche, various left assistant for urban planning, “A completely anachronistic land management policy”. Under previous conditions, she accuses, “We continued to emphasize everywhere”, forget “Completely that nature needed space where the water could flow”. That is also “A matter of pipes”, she adds, Marseille misses hard “A rainwater drainage network”.

A beach in Marseille buried under rubbish after heavy rain on Monday 5 October.

Municipal officials accuse the metropolis, responsible for cleanliness and waste management, for not having been able to anticipate this meteorological episode, certainly unusual but predictable, by having the waste picked up urgently on the weekend after a week-long strike by the cleaning staff. “The second largest city in France must regain its skills in terms of both cleanliness, roads and waste”, thus confirmed Mme Fair, given that, unlike other metropolises in France, Aix-Marseille-Provence has no “A real big city project”.

“Using a natural disaster to play rune politics is unworthy of responsible elected officials”, the elected representatives for the right-wing majority in the big city responded in a press release. On TwitterMartine Vassal, president of the Republicans of the metropolis, assured, photos in support of the agents were ” work “ and cleaned up the beaches.

Call for volunteers

Volunteers pick up the rubbish on the beaches of Marseille on 5 October.

Far from controversy on the beaches, associations and residents continued to bustle Tuesday for fear of the mistral announced in the coming days that could bring other waste back. “Because of the wind and the waves, the cleaning will have to last for several days, and I urge all goodwill to swell up in the ranks of association volunteers, for every waste that is collected counts.”, asked the mayor various left of the 6e and 8e arrondissements, Pierre Benarroche.

At sea, Marseille firefighters have launched air surveillance of the coasts to identify pollution and organize their collection. Many protected sea areas are located off Marseille, especially in the Calanques National Park, the most visited in France, at the city gates.

The world with AFP

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