Environmental and Corporate Crimes: The Case of Polluting Industries in France

Environmental and Corporate Crimes: The Case of Polluting Industries in France

Laurent Mucchielli (LAMES, CNRS, France & Aix-Marseille Université, France)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1286-9.ch016
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Drawing inspiration from researches on environmental crime and corporate crime, this chapter examines the case of air pollution caused by road transport and industry in France. The purpose of the author is first to document the nature and extent of these health threats to populations and second to highlight the existence of delinquent practices (defined as deliberate violations of legal norms) that sometimes play a major role in perpetuating these threats. The author first examines the issue of pollution caused by automobile engines and returns to “Dieselgate.” It then details the pollution problems observed in the Fos-sur-Mer industrial area in the south of France and its consequences on the health of local populations.
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Air Pollution: The Situation In France

Santé Publique France (SPF) is the national public health agency created in April 2016, following the law of 26 January 2016 on the modernization of the health system, with the mission of “effectively protecting the health of populations”. In June 2016, it published a report entitled Impacts of Chronic Exposure to Fine Particles on Mortality in Continental France, which is in line with the scientific work of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Environment Agency (EEA). This report provides a comprehensive overview of the extent and health effects of air pollution (fine particles of 2.5 micrometers), based on a study of all municipalities in metropolitan France in 2007-2008. These pollutions are defined as “a complex mixture composed of primary pollutants emitted directly by the sources of pollution (road traffic, industry, heating, agriculture...)”. These include, for example, sulphur oxides, volatile organic compounds, particles, metals (lead, mercury, cadmium, etc.). Secondary pollutants not emitted directly from a source but resulting from chemical reactions in the atmosphere, such as ozone and nitrogen dioxide, are also considered.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Corporate Crime: Crimes committed either by a corporation or by individuals acting on behalf of a corporation or other business entity.

Lobbying: Set of more or less subtle methods used by a specific group to obtain decisions that are in its interests by using its power and influence.

Dieselgate: An industrial and health scandal linked to the use by the Volkswagen group, from 2009 to 2015, of various techniques aimed at fraudulently reducing the polluting emissions of some of its engines during certification tests.

Environmental Crime: All forms of environmental damage voluntarily produced by individuals and organizations.

Corruption: The fact that a person entrusted with a specific function (public or private) solicits or accepts a gift or advantage of any kind in order to perform, or refrain from performing, an act within the scope of his or her duties.

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