Écosabotage français

Earlier this month, some 200 activists invaded and sabotaged a concrete plant in La Malle, a town outside Marseille in southern France. Making dramatic use of COVID PPE, the activists were able to film their operations while maintaining anonymity. 

“In a determined and joyful atmosphere, the infrastructure of the plant of the cement company was attacked,” said the group, which simply calls itself Action Lafarge, in reference to the plant’s owner-operator. “Sabotage of the incinerator and electrical devices, cables cut, bags of cement broken open, vehicles & construction equipment damaged, office windows damaged, walls tagged.”

Activists claim the plant is one of Europe’s major carbon emitters and causes local air pollution fuelling its furnaces with old tyres. Blockades and site occupations have been targeting the company since 2020 in France and Switzerland.

Lafarge is part of the Swiss-based Holcim Group. It is the leading manufacturer of concrete in Australia, as well as in India and Latin America, holding assets in 70 different countries. 

The company has a chequered legal and regulatory history. They have been convicted of paying protection money to ISIS and al-Nusra in connection with a plant in Syria. Elevated levels of mercury have been detected in the blood of residents around their New York state plant.

While activists are probably right that Holcim is not doing enough to reduce pollution, the group is motivated by blatantly anti-development ideology. In a statement following the sabotage operation, they said, “From the extraction of sand, to the production of cement and concrete, and to unnecessary large projects, the whole chain of the construction industry represents an ecological disaster.” 

They lament the prominence of concrete “in our landscapes as in our imaginations,” singling out construction projects like a new airport proposed for NW Paris and stadiums and transportation planned for the 2024 Olympics.

“Defeating ecocidal land-use projects by the appropriate means and destroying the infrastructure that makes them possible are the only options to make the world desirable again.”

One doubts the group has fully thought through the implications of a world without concrete. Still, such actions have the positive effect of pushing large companies to do more to ensure they are viewed as environmentally responsible.

More photos from the sabotage operation available here.

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