|Towards an impact assessment of bauxite red mud waste on the knowledge of the structure and functions of bathyal ecosystems: The example of the Cassidaigne canyon (north-western Mediterranean Sea)|Dauvin, J.-C. (2010). Towards an impact assessment of bauxite red mud waste on the knowledge of the structure and functions of bathyal ecosystems: The example of the Cassidaigne canyon (north-western Mediterranean Sea). Mar. Pollut. Bull. 60(2): 197-206. http://hdl.handle.net/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2009.09.026
In: Marine Pollution Bulletin. Macmillan: London. ISSN 0025-326X; e-ISSN 1879-3363, meer
MED, North-western Mediterranean
Impact assessment; Bauxite red mud waste; Bathyal ecosystems;North-western Mediterranean Sea; Collaborative approach
Since 1967, the alumina plants in the Marseilles area (Barasse and Gardanne) have been discharging themineral residue (i.e., red mud) resulting from the alkaline processing of bauxite into the submarine Cassidaignecanyon (north-western Mediterranean Sea) through pipes situated at 320–330 m in depth. TheBarasse pipe stopped being used in 1988. From 1987 to 1996, many decrees and regulations were promulgatedby the French State to rule the conditions under which the Gardanne alumina refinery wasauthorized to dispose of the bauxite residue in the sea. The refinery was required: (i) to study the hydrodynamiccirculation in the Cassidaigne canyon to evaluate the potential dispersion and transport of fineelements discharged into the water mass and their impact on the pelagic ecosystem; (ii) to survey themarine environment every five years to control the expansion and thickness of the red mud depositand compare the evolution of the benthic macrofauna at representative sampling sites in the environmentaffected by the red mud discharge with that of reference sites outside of the red mud plume;(iii) to study the effect of the discharge on fishing activities; and (iv) to investigate the toxicity of thered mud, particularly its persistence, accumulation, interaction and effect on the marine ecosystem, payingspecial attention to the bio-accumulation of chromium and vanadium. A Scientific Committee wascreated to insure an independent evaluation of the studies promised by the manufacturer in responseto the State’s regulations. Since the beginning of the 1960s, data have been accumulating on the structureand long-term functioning of the Cassidaigne bathyal ecosystem. This paper presents the collaborativeefforts of the State-Manufacturer-Committee triplet and summarizes the main results obtained duringthe last period’s sea campaigns (1991–2007). This paper also illustrates how national regulations concerningmanufacturers, such as Gardanne alumina refinery, have provided new knowledge about thestructure and functioning of a bathyal ecosystem in the Cassidaigne canyon in the north-western MediterraneanSea.