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Martigues, France

Victory! On July 3, 2023, the criminal court of Marseille found Kem One guilty of the chemical leak and fined them €50,000.

Following a ferric chloride solution leak from the Kem One site at Lavéra in Martigues, France, a toxic slick formed in the Gulf of Fos, leading to the closure of several bathing sites.


In the night of July 22nd to 23rd, 2020 a leak was detected in a ferric chloride solution storage tank in the production site of a company called Kem One in Lavéra, Martigues. This corrosive product, mainly used for wastewater treatment, passed through the site’s pluvial network, flowing into the Mediterranean and creating a toxic water table of around 6 hectares at the Anse d’Auguette cove. After the intervention of forty marine firefighters and ten firefighters as well as a surveillance plane and a ship specialized in pollution control at sea, the slick disappeared. The measures of banning swimming and nautical activities in the area announced in the morning are lifted after analysis showed no deviation from the normal composition of seawater. However, despite this analysis and the disappearance of the pollution, the consequences of this incident on marine flora and fauna are certain.


Lots of environmental organizations and locals have gathered around the issue. Our Mediterranean office is in charge of the legal action with on the ground support from our Bouches-du-Rhône chapter.


Ferric chloride is normally used for the purification of water. In high quantities, it can severely harm the environment and users, studies for the direct impacts of the spill are ongoing.


Surfrider Europe files a complaint for the discharges that have resulted in water pollution. Once the complaint is filed, it is now up to the public prosecutor to decide whether proceedings will be taken against the manufacturer.


Although the pollution is no longer visible today, the ecological impact of this chemical pollution on marine species remains significant. Surfrider Europe files the complaint that Kem One are held responsible for the damage caused.