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Chemical industry agrees to clean up waste dump in Jura

Greenpeace activists outside the Bonfol waste dump

(Keystone)

The chemical industry has promised to clean up a major toxic waste dump in canton Jura. A timetable for the operation should be ready in the next few months. However, environmentalists are continuing protests to press for a swifter solution.

The chemical companies from Basel, which have been using the Bonfol site near the French border, agreed to eleminate possible environmental dangers. The agreement came after talks on Monday with the authorities in canton Jura.

Cantonal officicals said they presented the industry with a report by experts on cleaning up the Bonfol site, prompting the chemical companies to make an apparent U-turn. So far, they have maintained that it was unnecessary to clean up the dump, and that it was technically not feasible either.

The Jura cantonal government and the federal environment agency have been demanding a clean-up for some time. Neighbouring France also expressed concern that toxic substances from the dump could spill into the underground water table.

Last Saturday, members of the environmental organisation, Greenpeace, occupied the waste site and a nearby factory to press for a swift solution. A spokesman said Greenpeace would not end its protest yet to keep the pressure up.

The site at the village of Bonfol was used mainly by chemical companies from Basel between 1960 and 1976. They stored more than 100,000 tonnes of waste, and it is estimated the clean-up operation could cost up to SFr200 million.

swissinfo with agencies

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