In Colmar, the "Little Venice" now has nothing to envy to the big one. On Saturday, the Lauch canals that surround the historic center of the Alsatian city suddenly turned fluorescent green - as was the case last May for the Grand Canal of the City of the Doges.
The reason for this sudden change of hue is the same: fluorescein, a powerful organic dye that turns green in contact with water, was poured by environmental activists, as indicated by the regional daily Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace. If in Venice the authors of this spectacular action have not been identified, on the other hand this weekend in Colmar, it is the group Extinction Rebellion of Strasbourg which claimed the initiative, by relaying many photos of the fountains and canals thus painted.
On the Facebook page of Extinction Rebellion Strasbourg, the activists of this "movement advocating civil disobedience" specify that they wanted to alert against the Stocamine project, which consists of storing toxic waste (including asbestos or mercury for example) by burying it in a former mining site in Wittelsheim (Haut-Rhin). Waste buried in galleries must be surrounded by a concrete screed to avoid contamination of the water table.
See alsoSeveral rivers colored in fluorescent green to alert on the environment
Activists talk about 'harmless' dye
After years of controversy and battle with environmental groups, a commission of inquiry seized by the courts and whose work was made public in July finally gave the green light, with reservations, for the project to continue. On the other hand, a public inquiry had shown the hostility of the population of the department.
It is therefore to protest against the alleged risk of pollution of the water table that the activists of Extinction Rebellion announced Saturday to have dumped fluorescein in the waters of the Lauch in Colmar. "We recall that the dye used called Fluorescein or Uranine is TOTALLY harmless to living beings (humans, plants, animals). It is used in ophthalmology, fish farming and by cavers," the activists say on their Facebook page.
This dye has already been used in other actions in France: in 2016 already in Annecy, Rennes or Alès; or last March in the waters of the Var (this time to protest against the pension reform), for example. In Chicago, tradition dictates that St. Patrick's Day is celebrated this way every March 17.
But this Saturday, in Colmar, the mayor (LR) Eric Straumann ensures that the inhabitants have noticed the appearance on the surface of the waters of the Lauch of many dead fish following the spillage of the dye. "The perpetrator has been identified by the Green Brigades. We are continuing the proceedings against this individual, "says Eric Straumann on Facebook, denouncing a "pollution" caused by environmentalists. The mayor himself shared a photo of a fish floating, obviously dead, on the neon green waters of the Lauch.
The Green Brigade (a corps of rural guards acting as municipal police in rural towns) confirms to Le Figaro to have arrested a man accused by tourists of having poured the dye into the Lauch. The latter, found in possession of cans and hands visibly stained by the dye, "did not seek to deny the facts" and "was handed over to the national police after his arrest" Saturday afternoon, adds the Green Brigade of Colmar.
I myself have been able to observe, continues Mayor Eric Straumann, the impact on aquatic fauna of this dye which has been dispersed in large quantities and which remains very visible more than 24 hours after its dispersal. " Neither Extinction Rebellion France nor Extinction Rebellion Strasbourg have so far wished to answer our questions.