Pollution: Lonza advocates the acquittal

ValaisL’chemical company the risk of a fine for having spilled a potentially dangerous substance in the waters of valais.

Pollution: Lonza plaide l'acquittement

Lonza has pleaded acquitted Thursday in a trial before the court of the district of Visp (VS) for water pollution by negligence. The company is liable to a fine of 150’000 swiss francs. The judgement is expected in a few days.

The company cannot be sentenced for the facts that it is not guilty, said the lawyer of Lonza. If the plant in Visp has rejected the solvent is 1,4-dioxane, it has not contravened the legislation. She has not committed any offence and may not be amended, said the lawyer.

The swiss legislation does not set any limit value to the infringing product until 2016. Therefore, it is not possible to accuse him of violation of the law, said the lawyer. And when standards were imposed, first by the State of Valais and by the swiss Confederation, the business is required.

Although there are exceedances highlighted in the indictment. But the margin of tolerance has been met in most cases. The lawyer has challenged other exceedances, either because neither the prosecution nor the factory could not explain the cause or that they have not taken place.

The spirit of the law

The prosecutor admitted that the law did not foresee at the time, no concentration limit for that solvent. But it highlighted the spirit of the law on the protection of waters. The simple fact of the dumping in the waters of a potentially dangerous substance is punishable, he said.

Dioxane is a pollutant that, at high doses, the product is even carcinogenic. Even in the absence of a specific standard, the company has a duty of care and must ensure the safety. The limit values are intended to say what dose is dangerous, not what a product is, said the prosecutor.

Extenuating circumstances

But the representative of the public Ministry was recognized in Lonza in a series of extenuating circumstances. The company has always adapted to the requirements which have been made to him, she informed the authorities and has cooperated with investigators.

In last word, the director of the plant in Visp Jörg Solèr said that neither the environment nor the population had been put in danger because of the evacuation of the solvent. It has been estimated that his company has always been transparent vis-à-vis the authorities, and that it is always bound to legal requirements.

Highlighted in 2014

This pollution was highlighted in 2014 when the groundwater monitoring put in place by the canton within the framework of the motorway project in Visp. Significant concentrations of the solvent have been identified in the vicinity of the sewage treatment plant and two wells related to the groundwater.

In the absence of a limit value in the legislation, the township has established maximum for the industrial releases of the product, in agreement with Lonza. 1,4-dioxane is a solvent that is colorless and odorless, used for the production of certain chemical products. It enters into the composition of various cosmetic products. The substance is easily degradable.

The judgment will be rendered in writing to the parties at a later time.

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