Seven stages by bike between Venice and Martigues, 850 km in all, to alert on the state of the Mediterranean lagoons. Arrived Friday after a week on the road, Jean-Philippe Garcia, president of the association “Le Raid de l’étang de Berre” pedaled to shine the spotlight on the poor condition of this salt pond overlooking the Mediterranean, the second most vast of Europe.
“On the name of Martigues the Venice of Provence, but above all the two cities have common problems of preserving their lagoons”, explains the cyclist. “We have been campaigning for the rehabilitation of the Etang de Berre for years, without much success. It is a cry of alarm that I push especially as the pollution of the neighboring factories has effects on human health: I also drove to emphasize the very high number of breast cancers that the on track here. »
“A strong impact on the oxygenation of the bottom and on the ecosystem”
In addition to the smoke emissions from the many refineries that border it, the Etang de Berre also suffers chronically from the discharge of fresh water from the EDF power station in Saint-Chamas. “This year there are a lot fewer releases due to the drought, so the pond is doing better, but the problem remains structural”, analyzes Raphaël Grisel, the director of Gipreb, the joint union which manages the pond. “The released fresh water becomes brackish, remains on the surface and does not mix with the salty one at the bottom, with a strong impact on the oxygenation of the bottom and on the ecosystem”.
France had been condemned in 2005 by European justice for its poor management of the water body. A 2020 report by three local MPs was reserved on negotiations with EDF to better manage freshwater supplies, but they have been suspended by the public operator since the start of the war in Ukraine.