Court rules France responsible in toxic algae case

PARIS (AP) -- A French court has found the state responsible for the 2009 death of a horse on a Brittany beach killed by toxic algae.

The decision by an appeals court in Nantes represents a victory for environmentalists and for the horse's owner, Vincent Petit, who nearly died himself when he and his mount were suddenly mired in muck that gave off toxic hydrogen sulfide gases emitted by rotting algae.

The court ruled Monday that France failed to sufficiently enforce national and European rules to protect water against pollution from agriculture.

Fertilizers, including natural fertilizers such as pig excrement, have caused a proliferation of algae along the northern French coast that turns into toxic black sludge when it decays. Pig farms and other agricultural activities are the backbone of the economy in the Cotes d'Armor region, where the accident occurred.

However, the court also deemed that Petit was imprudent for taking his mount onto the picturesque beach in the village of Saint-Michel-en-Greve despite a sign at the entrance warning of the danger of going near rotting algae. The court, therefore, limited the fine the state must pay Petit to 2,200 euros ($2,975).

A court is yet to rule on the cause of death of a man, Thierry Morfoisse, who died in 2009 in the region and whose job it was to empty algae bins.

Two dogs have also been killed by the algae in the area.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Top Stories

  • Exception to the Rule
    Socialist party defends paying $13 hour an hour while calling for much higher minimum wage

  • What Took So Long?
    WSDOT explains why it took so long to clean up a collision on I-5 Monday morning

  • All You Can Eat
    6 belt-loosening food challenges in Seattle you may not be man enough to complete
ATTENTION COMMENTERS: We've changed our comments, but want to keep you in the conversation.
Please login below with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing MyNorthwest account holders will need to create a new Disqus account or use one of the social logins provided below. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus
Sign up for breaking news e-mail alerts from MyNorthwest.com
In the community
Do you know an exceptional citizen who has impacted and inspired others?
KIRO Radio and WSECU would like to recognize six oustanding citizens this year. Nominate them to be recognized and to receive a $2,000 charitable grant.