In addition to its presence in several commissions (fisheries and ports in the state of Geneva, Forum Grand Genève, Thonon Agglo, Rivers Committees), the ASL intervenes with the authorities when it deems it necessary.
ASL interventions with the authorities
Following the publication in the press of new images showing boxes of ammunition covered with molds and not protected by sediment – contrary to what the authorities have claimed in the past – the ASL had written in December 2019 an open letter to the Council Federal, asking it to draw up an inventory of these ammunition, to assess the state of the depots and the environmental risk, as well as to take protective measures that are commensurate with the risks incurred.
In Geneva, the Department of Territory (DT) announced, during a press conference last May, that the study carried out on a 1.5 km2 surface between December 2021 and April 2022, made it possible to identify 682 magnetic points or sonar signals ranging from umbrellas to ammunition boxes to fish traps.
Secondly, the research carried out by an underwater camera robot (ROV) focused on 14 areas likely to provide quality samples. Among these areas of interest, two sectors were observed by professional divers, who recovered ammunition of different calibers, some possibly dated 1962.
This ammunition would present, according to the DT, an extremely low risk of spontaneous explosion. The chain reaction scenario also seems very unlikely. Whether or not covered with sediment, intact or corroded, munitions submerged in the test area would be safe as long as they remained at a constant depth and were not subjected to excessive deliberate stress or percussion.
The next planned research should make it possible to obtain a cadastre of the said munitions and provide tangible elements as to the advisability of withdrawing the military equipment. He then planned to design a sanitation project before carrying it out.
It should be noted that the Small lake is the place where the greatest quantity of material would have been immersed.
Detected in Switzerland for the first time in 2011, the Quagga mussel quickly took to its ease in the majority of the country’s great lakes and its invasion will generate considerable economic and ecological costs. In order to stop its spread and prevent the arrival of new invaders, the Canton of Vaud is carrying out an information campaign on the various vectors of contamination and control methods aimed at the fishing, navigation and diving.
The “On the water with respect” campaign informs about the relationship between outdoor sports and the disturbances caused to wildlife and their habitats. It shows fans of recreational activities and sports, particularly canoeing and paddleboarding, how they can move on the water while respecting nature.
All the information on the site: https://nature-loisirs.ch/eau
Rubalises – Potential pollution by microplastics
Several associations working for the protection of the environment in France, including the ASL, have sent a letter to the authorities of Haute-Savoie to express their astonishment at the practice of Motocross on the shores of Lake Geneva.
The “Open” project, a vast 49,000 m² shopping center in Saint-Genis-Pouilly (F) against which the ASL had protested by letter to the Prefect of Ain in December 2020 and which we had spoken about in the Lémaniques n°121, is at a standstill. Indeed, the administrative judge ruled in favor of the appeal by France Nature Environnement (FNE Ain) on November 2, for which we congratulate it. It invoked the destruction of the habitat of protected species such as the lulu lark, the yellowhammer and the common pipistrelle. To obtain an exemption, the promoters of the Open project will have to demonstrate that the construction of their shopping center is of greater public interest than that of the conservation of protected species.
Project of extension of the port of Amphion including the creation of a “port village
Following a ruling by the Lyon Court of Appeal which invalidated a ban on jet-skiing on Lake Geneva issued by the Prefect of Haute-Savoie in 1989, new regulations on navigation are being prepared on the French part of Lake Geneva. This has been entrusted to the Departmental Directorate of the Territories of Haute-Savoie, which is carrying out a wide-ranging consultation with lake users (professionals, environmental protection associations).
In view of the many problems likely to be generated by the practice of this sport (noise pollution, conflicts of use, insecurity, danger, etc.), the French group of the ASL has joined forces with the collective “Le Léman sans jet-ski” to oppose its authorisation on Lake Geneva.
After being informed of an accidental oil spill on 21 October in Amphion (F), which required the intervention of the fire brigade, the ASL contacted the Publier Town Hall to obtain more information on the causes and consequences of this pollution. Monique Gasnier, delegated by the ASL to meet and question those responsible and to express our concern, took the initiative. Her report states that she met with Mr. Eynard-Machet, Deputy Mayor, who told her that the pollution came from a sinking speedboat, that the boat had been removed from the water and that the small slick had been removed by the fire brigade. Two hours later, there was no visible trace of the pollutant and the return of the fish (fry) to the site was proof that the incident was over. The ASL thanks Monique for her efficiency and the Deputy Mayor for his availability and vigilance.
It is likely that the residual hydrocarbons have dispersed to the point where they are no longer visible. The pollution of Amphion is in itself isolated, without serious consequences, but the multiplication of these accidental pollutions creates an accumulation of residues which constitutes a permanent stress for the life of the lake. This is a recurrent problem, which we will discuss again.
ASL was heard in April 2022 by the environment commission of the Grand Council of the canton of Geneva on the subject of the bill on waste. The FSA mainly supported the proposed Articles 16 and 17, aimed at reducing plastic pollution through the ban on the provision of single-use plastics (bags, food packaging, takeaway food and drink containers… ) that we find in large quantities during clean-ups in and on the shores of aquatic environments.
Indeed, the ASL has been supporting alternatives to disposable containers for many years and had already met with GESDEC in 2017 to promote reusable containers in take-out restaurants, such as the ReCircle system already in place in many community restaurants and take away
More info on https://www.recircle.ch/fr/
During the 2022 edition of Net’Léman, the major lake clean-up organised by the ASL, divers from the Mora Mora club discovered two new types of waste on the seabed bordering the quay at Cologny (GE) that are of concern to the ASL. They are disposable electronic cigarettes and nitrous oxide cylinders used as laughing gas. The ASL has reported their presence to the Service de géologie, sols et déchets du canton de Genève (GESDEC) so that it can assess the potential impact of these discharges and agree on possible measures to be taken. We are awaiting a response.
What is an electronic cigarette?
It is a stick about ten centimetres long, often coloured and topped with a mouthpiece: the disposable electronic cigarette, also called Puff.
Composed of a protective tube, a lithium battery, electronic circuits and flavoured liquid, Puffs are particularly polluting for the environment. Due to their composition, they should be taken to a waste disposal site for treatment as special waste. The sale of single-use lithium batteries is nonsense in itself, given their impact on the environment and the fact that these batteries are designed to be recharged many times.
In addition to their environmental impact, these cigarettes are a public health hazard. Considered as foodstuffs in Switzerland, they are not affected by the regulations on tobacco advertising. Only a few cantons prohibit their sale to minors. Moreover, although some of them do not contain nicotine, the most heavily loaded ones contain the nicotine equivalent of 215 cigarettes.
The ASL has opposed proposals for greater public access to the banks of the lake and rivers.
In Geneva, this is a draft law and in the canton of Vaud a motion, both of which aim to achieve a continuous 2-metre wide route along the banks of the lake and rivers. The ASL was heard at the beginning of 2022 by the parliamentary commissions of the two cantons to give its opinion on these texts and it reiterated its recommendations, based on the reflections carried out in 2017, published in the quarterly Lémaniques n°104.
Although it is in favour of the principle of access for all to the lake shore, the ASL is opposed to these proposals in view of the risks for biodiversity represented by the creation, on the edge of the shore, of a 2-metre wide, continuous pedestrian pathway. It is in fact very difficult to reconcile public access with the preservation of the riparian natural environments and the ASL advocates instead spot access to the lake, or even a limited length of non-continuous pathway, developed from the existing centres of attraction or in areas of lesser ecological value. A case-by-case approach is therefore needed, not a general principle.
Deliberations are still in progress.
In October 2022, the ASL went to the first presentation session on the Tattes-de-Bogis (VD) landfill project organised by the Direction Générale de l’Environnement du Canton de Vaud (DGE) in order to express its concern about the possible pollution of the Versoix river that this project could cause.
The ASL proposed to consider locating the project on the other side of the motorway near the inter-communal wastewater treatment plant (SITSE), which could treat the polluted water emitted by the deposits.
The ASL is awaiting the outcome of this first meeting.
The ASL met with the authorities of the Commune of St-Sulpice last March to discuss the Port Laviau project. In fact, as part of the renaturation of the Venoge, it is planned to move the 90-berth harbour that is currently located there. However, the replacement site chosen is located in an area that is still natural and is home to several species of great ecological interest, particularly within the sub-lacustrine meadows. In addition, the project plans to accommodate more than 250 boats, i.e. 160 more than the current port accommodates. The ASL therefore asked the municipality for further details and expressed its concerns about the possible impact that such a structure would have on this natural area. No news since this meeting, the ASL remains on the lookout.
The inert waste storage facility (ISDI) project in Chauvilly (F), about which the ASL had expressed its concerns in a letter to the Prefect of the Ain in October 2021 and which we had also mentioned in Lémaniques n°121, is also on hold. Indeed, the administrative court of Lyon has ordered that the order of the Prefect of the Ain be temporarily suspended, judging the absence of an impact study to be illegal and the results of the analyses of the associations and the Commune of Cessy to be credible.