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Industrial risks: communities assess twenty-year ‘failure’ of prevention plans to protect the public

On September 21, 2001, an explosion at the AZF factory in Toulouse killed 31 people, injured more than 2,500, and caused heavy property damage. This disaster was a reminder that France was not immune to major industrial accidents and led to the development of the law of 30 July 2003 on the prevention of technological risks. Technological Risk Prevention Plans (PPRT) have been established in areas hosting high-risk installations, known as the “Sevesso High Barrier”, to improve population protection. Twenty years later, it’s time to take stock. And it’s fierce. A “failure”Judge Amaris, a national network of societies exposed to industrial risks, in a report published on Tuesday 19 September. the world had access.

“Twenty years after the PPRT founding law was passed, this instrument has produced very little effect”Alban Bruno, president of Amaris and mayor of Gonfretville-l’Orches, Seine-et-Marne, home to France’s largest plant owned by TotalEnergies, expressed regret. Refineries, but also chemical or steel complexes, storage areas for extremely dangerous products… 378 PPRTs are now in force (about 400 high-threshold Seveso sites in 2003, compared to 700 in 2023). They affect 800 municipalities, address thousands of companies and affect the lives of approximately 9 million people (residents and workers), recalls the association, which conducted a survey among its members. For Seveso’s other 300 high-threshold sites, simple town planning rules now apply to communities.

Of course, PPRTs helped reduce risks at source, admits Amaris, but they could not prevent the Lubrizol and Normandie Logistics giant fire that engulfed the Rouen metropolitan area on September 29, 2019. , in the list “obvious failures” It is long. Communities emphasize that the protection of the local population was in their own homes “main goal” PPRTs. Today he is “major failure” They judge. Amaris estimates that thirty thousand people are still exposed to industrial risks in their own homes.

One hundred and ninety-nine PPRTs have established safety works (installation of glass that does not break under the impact of an explosion, arrangement of buildings that allow restriction, etc.) for about 16,000 private houses. Barely 25% complete. The fault lies in the insufficient support of €20,000 or 10% of the property’s market value, which penalizes the owners of the most modest homes: “PPRTs have widened risk inequality. » Limited to eight years, the aid (including a 40% tax break) will gradually expire from 2024 and will not be able to benefit from the remaining 75%, regrets Amaris, who condemns “state shutdown”.

Source: Le Monde



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