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Greenpeace activists scale Ciba building

A Greenpeace banner on the Basel headquarters of Ciba.

(Keystone)

Sounding sirens and wearing orange overalls, activists from Greenpeace have scaled the headquarters of the speciality chemicals company, Ciba, to press for the speedy clean-up of a chemical waste dump.

The 15 activists from the environmental organisation also handed Ciba a barrel containing water contaminated by leakage from the site at Bonfol in canton Jura.

A spokesman for Greenpeace said the group had filled 15 barrels with polluted water, and were planning to hand them over in similar high-profile stunts to all the chemical companies which stored waste at Bonfol. He said Greenpeace doubted the chemical industry's intentions to clean up the site.

In an apparent U-turn two weeks ago, the chemical companies from Basel agreed to eliminate possible environmental dangers, after being presented with an expert report commissioned by the cantonal government. Until then, the industry had maintained that it was unnecessary and technically not feasible to clean up the dump.

The Jura cantonal government and the federal environment agency had 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.

The site at the village of Bonfol was used mainly by chemical companies 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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