UPDATE - Greenpeace activists occupy Swiss waste dumpv
ZURICH - Around 100 Greenpeace environmental activists blocked access to a toxic waste dump in western Switzerland on Saturday and demanded chemical companies clean up the site.
The disused landfill, in the town of Bonfol near the French border, holds around 114,000 tonnes of chemical waste that Basel-based companies stored there between 1961 and 1976.
"The chemical industrys toxic legacy should not become the burden of future generations. Its time for those responsible...to
accept their responsibility for this chemical time bomb and clean it up immediately," said Stefan Weber, who handles toxic waste issues for Greenpeace.
The town of Bonfol, the canton of Jura and federal environmental authorities have all called for a 200 million Swiss franc ($117 million) clean up at the site, which the canton has declared polluted.
Chemical companies in the Basel area have balked at paying for a clean up, saying their waste disposal was entirely legal and that the site was safe and secure. Subsequent changes in the law bar dumping such waste there now.
A spokesman for Basel chemical companies, Rodolfo Ciucci, said the firms were discussing the matter with government authorities and environmentalists and would ensure the site did not pose a public health danger.
"We have to see how to solve this and not leave it to future generations, but this will take some study and time to see what is possible to do," he said.
"Only after that - and if we see the risk of touching the landfill is lower than leaving it as it is - we can take responsibility and start doing whatever is needed."
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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