Milestone for the Dollemard landfill: Surfrider's advocacy work is paying off !

08/12/21

If you are familiar with the Normandy region, you probably know the Dollemard cliffs. This beautiful natural site is home to noteworthy species, yet, it is threatened since 1960 by the biggest coastal landfill in France. Every single year, the landfill of Dollemard discharges two meters of contaminated soil into the sea. For the past decade, Surfrider Foundation Europe’s Seine Maritime chapter has been working in coalition with other local groups to find a long term solution with public authorities. Recently, the collective action has paid off ! Learn more on this environmental victory throughout the following article. 

Why is the landfill of Dollemard such a threat to our coastline? 

Located near the city of Le Havre, the famous Dollemard cliffs represent an exceptional natural territory. They have been classified as a Natura 2000 area, and have also been listed under Le Havre’s Local Urbanism Plan (PLU) as “remarkable natural sites”. Yet, these cliffs face a major ecological threat. The reason? The ancient landfill of Dollemard. Abandonned since the year 1999, the landfill of Dollemard holds about 400,000 tons of domestic and industrial waste, that is eroding into the English Channel since for past 60 years, thus threatening the fragile coastal and marine ecosystems of the surroundings. As the cliffs are eroding by two meters per year, more and more buried waste is resurfacing, and then discharged into the sea during high tides and storm events. By the year 2050, the equivalent of 13,000 truckloads of waste will have been dropped into this unique natural protected zone. To avoid further environmental damages, it is therefore urgent to act. 

Surfrider mobilized against the landfill of Dollemard for the past decade

Through its Seine Maritime chapter as well as its local force of Coastal Defenders, Surfrider Foundation Europe has been acting on this urgent environmental issue for the past decade. In cooperation with a local collective of organizations (e.g. France Nature Environment, SeaMer Asso, Ecologie pour Le Havre), Surfrider Foundation Europe has demanded the full excavation of the landfill of Dollemard. Why? Conducting the complete excavation of the site remains the best option to effectively remove the 400,000 tons of waste without endangering the cliffs. The local collective has managed to establish a real dialogue with public authorities. This has paved the way for a positive decision regarding the future of the landfill.


 

What is the situation today? Towards some significant progress 

At the end of October 2021, some major improvement has been made, as the city of Le Havre finally started to excavate the landfill of Dollemard. Surfrider Foundation Europe’s Coastal Defenders were invited to visit the test worksite, where samples have been collected in order to determine the quantity of waste to be removed and treated. The workers were equipped to deal with potentially dangerous waste, like asbestos. Arnaud Freret, Coastal Defender, has been committed against the landfill for the past years : “It is great to see that the city of Le Havre has taken the first step towards full excavation, and we will keep supporting the next phases of the process”.  


The Dollemard landfill in 2018 : a major threat to the health of our coastline. 


Today, some real action has been taken to remove all the waste of the landfill. Surfrider Foundation Europe will continue to follow and support the process of excavation, until the site is eventually clean. 


> Click here to learn more on the landfill of Dollemard

> International community of both volunteers and experts, Surfrider Foundation Europe’s Coastal Defenders are continuously acting on the ground to protect our coasts against pollution and harmful coastal projects. Visit the page to learn more on all their actions.  

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