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BOIL OVER CHEMICAL WASTE.

It all started with a protest action on May 14 as protesters from Greenpeace Switzerland began what turned out to be an 8-week demonstration in Bonfol JU against Basler Chemische Industrie's chemical waste repository located there. Greenpeace activists occupied the repository and refused to relinquish control of the site until Basler Chemische agreed to their terms. Greenpeace, along with the town of Bonfol itself, demanded the immediate decontamination and renovation of the area to which Basler Chemische Industrie, including firms such as Clariant, Roche, Ciba and Novartis, verbally conceded. However, Basler Chemische hesitated to take action and instead gave the protestors large doses of lip service. So Greenpeace, as always, started playing hardball.

After a group of chemical analysts determined that the poison and chemical waste stored in Bonfol had already reached the sub-soil and underground water sources, Greenpeace stepped up its efforts to force immediate action on the part of the chemical firms. Filling barrels with contaminated water and ooze from the waste repositories and delivering them to the doorsteps of the various "persons in charge of and responsible for the contaminated repositories," including Roche director Mr. Gerber and the director at Clariant, Novartis and Ciba, Greenpeace hoped to more effectively reach its audience and make its message clear. Stefan Weber, head of Greenpeace Switzerland's Chemical Waste Campaign, stated, "[the chemical companies] have done a lot of good talking. Now we expect action." And they expect action not only in Bonfol. The call for immediate decontamination and renovation was then also made for repositories in Kolliken and Teuftal, both located in canton Aargau, as well as in Hagenthal-le Bas, located in t he Alsace region of France.

The protest action came to a head after Greenpeace representatives discovered illegal chemical waste repositories belonging to chemical firm Febex SA in Bex VD and Ollon VD. They also verified that water sources in Risch Buonas ZG were contaminated with various Novartis medicines. Greenpeace said the discovery of Novartis drugs whose production has been forbidden since the 1970's--drugs such as Tegretol, an anti-depressant, and Sandoptal, a sedative--was exceptionally disturbing and posed a serious threat to the residents of the Zug town and its surrounding area. The last barrel they delivered was by helicopter to the Novartis "Imperator" Dan "Superman" Vasella. Basler Chemisehe, Greenpeace and French environmental agencies finally reached a written contractual agreement on July 7. The plan involves the employment of a group of experts who will investigate the various repositories and develop a plan for the decontamination and renovation of the chemical waste sites. Their proposal is to be presented no later than February 2001, after which clean-up will immediately begin.
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Title Annotation:Greenpeace protest in Bonfol
Comment:BOIL OVER CHEMICAL WASTE.(Greenpeace protest in Bonfol)
Publication:Swiss News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EXSI
Date:Sep 1, 2000
Words:441
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