The Toulouse incinerator is “by far” the most polluting plant in France in terms of nitrogen oxide emissions, according to a report released on Wednesday by the non-governmental organization Zero Waste Toulouse, which denounces “lack of apparent political will” to reduce emissions. these releases.
In 2020, this incinerator emitted 322 tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx), or “the same as the three largest French incinerators combined,” underlines the Toulouse branch of this environmental association.
The waste incineration plant in Toulouse, one of the oldest operating in France, is located in close proximity to schools and residential buildings, in the densely populated Miraille district.
Ranked 8th among the largest incinerators in France, it also broke records for an average NOx concentration of 156 mg/Nm3, well ahead of Foss-sur-Mer (Bouches-du-Rhone), which ranks second in this ranking with 61 mg/nm3.
The “discovery” of these numbers, according to official reports, “was a shock,” Zero Waste Toulouse administrator Thomas Gilpain told AFP.
In France, an order of September 2002 sets a maximum value for NOx emissions to the atmosphere of 200 mg/Nm3 as a daily average for waste incinerators.
Economic measures were taken in 2013 “to encourage incinerator operators to go beyond their simple regulatory obligations,” the NGO report says.
“Efforts have been made in most incinerators in France, and in Toulouse we are almost at the same level as 20 years ago,” laments Mr Guilpin.
According to him, “the problem is not only in health”, it concerns, first of all, “the urgency of massive reduction in the amount of waste.”
The report points to “evidence of a lack of political will (in Toulouse) to combat this waste production,” he adds.
The opinion is shared by the deputy La France insoumise (LFI) from the 4th arrondissement of Haute-Garonne Francois Piquemal.
“In Toulouse for several decades, at intervals of six years, we had a right-wing policy that always had a short-term vision,” accuses the elected official.
He denounces the “archetypal lack of planning for all environmental matters”.
Vincent Terray-Noves, vice president of Toulouse Métropole, for his part, stressed that “waste reduction (…) is more difficult to implement in large cities like Toulouse” with about 800,000 people than in smaller towns . .
“In order to reduce the amount of waste, we need the participation of residents. And in Toulouse we are working hard to have a clear waste policy,” says Mr. Terraille-Noves, also president of Decoset, an amalgamated syndicate of about 150 cities. in the suburbs of Toulouse, in charge of managing the plant.
He admits the numbers are “higher” than other incinerators, “mostly new or refurbished”, but puts things in perspective. “About 80% of nitrogen oxides are produced by road transport, 7% by residential, and we represent 3%,” he says, citing data from the air quality control authority, ATMO Occitanie.
However, he claims that since 2022, Decoset has invested 46 million euros to reduce the amount of nitric oxide so that it falls below the threshold of 150 mg/Nm3.
But with the incinerator, built in 1969, coming to an end in 2030, the mixed syndicate preferred to open public consultations on the future of the plant, Mr Terraile-Noves explains.
The consultation is scheduled from September 20 to November 27 with three options: closing the plant in 2030, its repair or reconstruction, on site or elsewhere.