Accepted Paper:

Monitoring pollution with local communities and lichens in the Fos-sur-mer industrial area (France)   


Christelle Gramaglia (Institut National de Recherche en Sciences et Technologies pour l'environnement et l'agriculture)
Philippe Chamaret (Institut Ecocitoyen pour la Connaissance des Pollutions)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the work completed by a citizen organization so “undone science” about pollution in the Fos-sur-Mer industrial area (France) gets done. We discuss the epistemological and political qualities of participative biomonitoring data so as their ability to challenge current regulatory practices.

Paper long abstract:

The Fos-sur-mer industrial area, one of the largest of its kind in Europe, was set up in the 1960s. Steel and petrochemical plants, some classified as dangerous, were built. The impact on the local communities was dramatic. Rapidly, pollution generated protest. So, in 1971, the administration created a collegial organization to restore dialogue. Technical solutions to reduce emissions were examined. Concerns fluctuated until a waste incinerator was constructed in the 2000's. The issue was raised again. Demonstrations took place to oppose the facility. Residents pointed at the lack of knowledge about the industry impact on environment and health. Under pressure, some representatives requested a territorial check-up. They also supported citizen-based organization (IECP or Eco-citizen institute for knowing pollution) whose aim is it to develop research on the chronic effects of pollution below the threshold of regulatory norms, but also to lobby the administration so it may change its monitoring.

The objective of this paper is to examine the work completed by the IECP so "undone science" (Frickel at al. 2010) about pollution and its impacts on living organisms gets done (and is made locally relevant). Special attention is paid to participative biomonitoring experiments to document pollution accumulation. Elaborating on archive research and interviews with stakeholders, we see how relations between scientists, decision makers, industrialists and citizens evolve in the area. We also discuss the epistemological and political qualities of the data produced as well as their ability to challenge current regulatory practices.

Panel T045
New Collective Practices of Measurement, Monitoring and Evidence