Several hundred demonstrators (1,500 according to the organizing collectives, 400 according to the prefecture) marched this Saturday in the Tarn against the A69 motorway and the "bitumen factories" that are to be installed on site to produce the coating of this disputed project.
Starting from the village of Saint-Germain-des-Près (Tarn), the procession mixing inhabitants of the surrounding area, parents and pupils of local schools as well as activists from environmental associations and collectives, was supposed to reach a small neighbouring town but it finally branched off to reach the site of one of the two future "hot bituminous asphalt plants" that will produce some 500,000 tonnes of pavement on the A69.
At the scene, a dozen gendarmes using tear gas were unable to prevent more activists from entering the site.
The demonstrators are declaring victory. Several pieces of equipment were destroyed in front of this tarmac hill. #A69 #Toulouse #Castres #beton pic.twitter.com/4164bAgzpO
— La Dépêche 31 (@ladepeche31) December 9, 2023
Clad in white overalls and mostly masked, they climbed the black hills of "fraisat" (a material made from road recycling) that is to be used by the plant, with a long banner bearing the message: "No to the Castres/Toulouse motorway. Against this ecocidal project! ».
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Some carried signs with the names of chemical substances (nitrogen oxide, hydrocarbons, benzopyrene, sulphur oxide, etc.) that they said were emitted by power plants during use. An algeco was burned by militants during the action, emitting thick black smoke for a few minutes.
'They think we're fools'
The various citizens' and local collectives created against the bitumen power plants denounce the risks to health and the environment presented by the fumes of these temporary installations which will produce the pavement of the motorway for several months.
At the start of the demonstration, Sabine, 68 years old, a retired construction worker and resident of Villeneuve-lès-Lavaur where the second power plant is to be installed, held her sign high: "We will pour your sufficiency in your concrete".
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"They take us for fools, for slobs, telling us that what is going to come out of the factory is water vapour. They said to themselves, we're in the countryside, with peasants, they looked down on us and now they're a little surprised," she said.
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"Double punishment for the inhabitants, not content with imposing a useless, ecocidal and discriminatory motorway on us, elected officials, the State, the concessionaire and the manufacturer NGE are going to smoke and pollute our daily environment," denounced Régis Lux of the Lauragais sans bitume collective, before the departure of the procession.