Start of the fight : 04/02/2013
Fight won by : Martine
In November 2012, bacteriological pollution of faecal origin was found in the saltwater lake of Hossegor, France. Following an outbreak of food poisoning in the area, water analyses were carried out, which revealed the presence of calicivirus (a virus which can affect both humans and animals). A prefectural byelaw ensued, banning all oyster farming activities at the lake. Although the byelaw was lifted after a few weeks, a health risk remains. The decision to lift the ban constitutes a serious risk to public health, but it is the local economy and dynamics in the area which would suffer the heavy consequences should the oyster farms and surrounding bathing sites have to be closed down.
The heavy rainfall and the gastroenteritis epidemic which simultaneously hit the Landes Region last year points the finger at the surrounding wastewater treatment plants, which tend to be faulty, obsolete, and/or inadequate. In an attempt to validate this hypothesis, samples taken upstream and downstream from these sewage treatment plants revealed the presence of both norovirus and sapovirus. Many oyster farmers had to suspend their operations for several months. Hence, on the 22nd of December 2012, a representative of the Hossegor skilled workers was mandated by the president of the regional committee for shellfish cultivation in Arcachon Aquitaine to file a legal complaint against person unknown at the police station in Seignosse (Landes Region), "for the discharge of substances which are harmful to fish or their food, and for pollution". Surfrider supported this approach by filing a second complaint against person unknown.
Today, there is scientific evidence for the existence of pollution in the saltwater lake of Hossegor. The SFE Sud-Landes Chapter, represented by Martine, is ready to ensure the mediatisation of this pollution, which represents a high risk to public health, but also to get the stone rolling by entering into dialogue with territorial collectivities, the association of municipalities, and the concerned municipal syndicate. If you are also concerned by the pollution in the saltwater lake of Hossegor, send in your witness reports to the SFE Sud-Landes Chapter.
Since 2003: Oyster farmers at the lake in Hossegor regularly observe bacteriological pollution in the lake without being able to determine its source.
End of November - beginning of December 2012: Gastroenteritis epidemic in the Landes Department.
24th/25th/26th of November: Heavy rainfall in the catchment areas of the Bourret and the Boudigau Rivers.
2nd of December 2012: Outbreak of food poisoning following the consumption of oysters from the saltwater lake in Hossegor.
6th of December 2012: Prefectural decree makes provisions to transfer the discharges from the wastewater treatment plant to the Adour River. This decree is amending the decree from the 17th of May 2002, which had authorised the wastewater treatment plant of St Vincent de Tyrosse to release its discharges into the Maubecq Stream, which feeds into the Bourret River. This authorisation had been subjected to certain conditions of compliance, which were not respected.
14th of December - 11th of March 2013: Prefectural decree prohibits the sale of oysters reared in the lake at Hossegor.
22nd of December 2012: The representative of the Hossegor oyster farmers files a legal complaint against person unknown for causing pollution in the lake.
22nd of January 2013: The CRC (Comité Régional de la Conchyliculture Arcachon Aquitaine = Aquitaine Arcachon Regional Committee of Oyster Farmers) is commissioning bacteriological analyses to be carried out in the Maubecq Stream, both upstream and downstream from the St Vincent de Tyrosse wastewater treatment plant. The results show that Escherichia coli concentrations rocket from 163 NPP/100ml upstream to 110,340 NPP/100ml downstream! According to health standards, the values should not exceed 15 NPP/100ml.
26th of February 2013: The CRC and SEPANSO file a legal complaint against person unknown at the local police station for causing pollution in the lake.
19th of April 2013: A letter is sent to the Prefecture requesting information on the discharges from the wastewater treatment plants in the catchment areas of the Bourret and Boudigau Rivers, and in particular the records of the flows treated by the plants and those of their overflow systems.
16th of May 2013: The office responsible for discharges and pollution prevention at the DDTM (Departmental Directorate of Territories and the Sea) rejects our request for information, arguing that these documents are incomplete, and that the law only imposes the right to information on completed documents.
18th of June 2013: SFE files a legal complaint against person unknown on the same grounds as the CRC and SEPANSO.
August 2013: Outbreak of serious skin reactions in a group of children one hour after they had bathed in the lake.