the 87 inhabitants of Évin-Malmaison lose their lawsuit against the State

On February 24, 1960, two horses were found dead in Évin-Malmaison. Food samples are sent to a laboratory for analysis. We then discovered an abnormally high concentration of lead in the leaves of beets and cabbage. Two years later, the mayor of the town wrote to the prefect to warn him. This lead can only come from the neighboring foundry, which is then called Peñarroya and will become Metaleurop. Conclusion of Me David Deharbe: “ As early as 1962, the prefect knew that animals ate food that could cause them to die… »

Historical decision?

This lawyer specializing in the environment has been fighting for several years for the association PIGE (For the general interest of Evinois) and the inhabitants of Évin-Malmaison affected by the PIG Metaleurop, this perimeter which delimits the officially polluted land by the old factory closed in 2003. This Tuesday, December 21, the administrative court of Lille was to render a judgment which it hoped would be historic. It was a question of making it recognized that the State had, knowingly, let Metaleurop pollute to the detriment of the living environment and the health of the inhabitants.

A month ago, the applicants present and he came out of the hearing stunned: the public rapporteur, Frédéric Malfoy, had advised the court to reject their requests, after dismantling each of their arguments. For him, the successive prefects had always done what they could with the legislative arsenal of their time: “ There was no wrongful conduct by the state. (…) The services of the prefecture were not particularly complacent. »

No answer

Not required to follow him, the three judges, Sylvande Perdu, Sophie Bergerat and Xavier Fabre, nevertheless dismissed the Évinois of their request. But for another reason. They judged that none of them provided proof of the various damages suffered (material, financial and anxiety). Consequently, they avoided settling the central question of the possible faulty deficiencies of the State.

The judges did not have the audacity to support the unbearable “, comments the lawyer of the inhabitants. But according to him, several documents in the file have been distorted “.

Bruno Adolphi, president PIGE, has already announced that he will appeal. Me Deharbe remains optimistic: “ Our case is solid. »

Two other appeals to come

The Administrative Court of Lille has not finished with the toxic legacy of Metaleurop. Two other cases are waiting to be heard and judged. The first was filed by the PIGE association itself: it requests the purchase, by the State, of vegetable plots to allow the inhabitants to cultivate above ground, in compensation for the damage caused. The second is that of local authorities, namely the agglomeration of Hénin-Carvin and the five municipalities affected by the PIG Metaleurop (Noyelles-Godault, Courcelles-les-Lens, Évin-Malmaison, Leforest and Dourges). They are claiming half a billion euros from the State for ecological damage.

The agglomeration of Hénin-Carvin (here its president Christophe Pilch) also attacked the State for ecological damage.  Photo archives

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