SAN JUAN (Puerto Rico), Jan. 6 (AP) — Nearly 20 years after a Caribbean islander sued the French government for criminal responsibility for the long-term use of a banned pesticide in the banana industry in Martinique and Guadeloupe, A panel of judges dismissed their case, ruling it was difficult to determine who was responsible for long-ago actions.
Judges in Paris described the use of chlordecone from 1973 to 1993 as a shameful “environmental attack whose human, economic and social consequences affected and will affect for many years the daily lives of the inhabitants of the two islands in the French Caribbean”.
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But they also assert that even in the 1990s, scientists had not established a link between chlordecone and human disease.
“How dare they write such a historical and scientific lie,” Christophe Lèguevaques, a lawyer involved in the case, said in a statement released Thursday.
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Chlordecone, also known as ketone, was patented in the 1950s by scientists working for Allied Chemical, an American company based in New Jersey, now known as Allied Corporation, that produced millions of pounds of insecticide agents, almost all of which are exported abroad for use in the United States.
The U.S. government banned the pesticide in 1976, a year after the Virginia Department of Health permanently closed a life sciences products chemical plant in Hopewell, Virginia, after workers at the plant spoke out over its use Confusion and other neurological problems.
Chlordecone, however, was legally sold in France from 1981 until the government outlawed it in 1990, after which it continued to be used in Guadeloupe and Martinique for three years to kill banana elephants under an exemption granted by the French government nose bug. Decades later, it continues to pollute the island’s soil and water.
The French government estimates that more than 90% of adults on the two islands, which have a combined population of approximately 750,000 people, have been exposed to chlordecone.
Chlordecone, among other diseases, increases the risk of prostate cancer, which the islanders have among the highest rates in the world, French cancer researchers say. Other studies in France have linked chlordecone exposure to preterm birth.
“It is inconceivable that those responsible will die without being held accountable,” Lèguevaques said, adding that he would urge his clients to appeal the national court’s Jan. 2 ruling in the public health dispute .
Other plaintiffs in the 2006 case include Paris-based environmental group Générations Futures, which also plans to appeal.
“This decision, while deeply disappointing, is not surprising,” the group said in a statement Friday, vowing to continue representing those affected until “the truth is revealed and justice is finally served.” .
In June, a central court in Paris ruled in a separate lawsuit brought by activists, organizations and victims that the French government was guilty of wrongful negligence involving the use of chlordecone but denied compensation to those affected, a decision that sparked outrage Many people.
The judge ruled in part that the defendants had not provided specific details to demonstrate “their alleged damage from anxiety.”
The legal dispute is taking place in Paris, rather than the French overseas provinces of Guadeloupe or Martinique, because it is a public health issue and is therefore being handled by a special health unit within the Paris central court.
Meanwhile, officials continue to test islanders for possible traces of chlordecone in their blood, free of charge. (Associated Press)
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