In Kerker (Tunisia) citizens fight against the pollution of an Italian factory

February 5th 2019

The Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES) denounces the authorization granted by the Tunisian Ministry of Industry to reopen an Italian olive-pomace factory, closed in 2016 for environmental pollution and deterioration of the living conditions of the inhabitants.

The FTDS supports the ongoing mobilization of people concerned about the ecological, health and economic consequences and calls on the Ministry of Industry to prevent the plant from operating outside the law again.

Accused in particular of pollution of the ground water by rejecting chemical solvent (hexane) and non-compliance with worker protection standards, the olive pomace (fitura) plant, "Agrind Tunisiana", located in the governorate of Mahdia , ceased its operations in 2016. Following a previous survey and visits from different authorities, the provisional authorization granted more than a year ago had been withdrawn and the plant had not resumed its operations. However, on November 16, 2018, the Ministry of Industry again authorized the opening of the plant, for 5 years this time.

According to the FTDS, residents have mobilized again and, despite attempts to weaken their action, have managed to temporarily block the application of this authorization. The local authorities, and in particular the municipality of Kerker and the delegation of Bourmedes, are also opposed to the reopening of this factory classified category 1 out of 3 in terms of risks (highest level, justifying according to the labor code the distance of dwellings).

The FTDS accuses the Italian company of seeking to take advantage of social and environmental standards less restrictive than in Italy, while benefiting from tax advantages "offshore". The citizens of Kerker denounce a real system of irresponsible corruption that violates their environmental law and endangers their lives.