The city asks the state for a cancer registry to end the "silence screed"

The industrial complex on the Gulf of Fos-sur-Mer. (Photo illustration) – FOURMY MARIO / SIPA

  • Like most towns and departments in France, Fos-sur-Mer, whose basin is highly exposed to industrial pollutants, does not have a register of cancer cases.
  • The ARS Paca also sent a request to the Minister of Health, in view of the local situation, where the excess mortality by cancer is of the order of 4.1%.
  • A register represents a financial investment of the order of 1 million euros per year.

The motion was passed unanimously. At the last city council of Fos-sur-Mer, elected officials asked the state to set up a local registry of cancer and birth defects. "What we ask is a tool, not a trial," demolishes the mayor Jean Hetsch (PS), denouncing the "screed of silence" that maintains concerns and feelings of impunity among the inhabitants of this industrial area , one of the largest in Europe. "This tool would provide insight into the impact of industrial pollutants and fine particles on the
human health, "he continues.

If it is primarily symbolic, this motion will land on the office of the prefect of Bouches-du-Rhone, which validates the deliberations of the city council. "He will be obliged to trace the information," said Jean Hetsch, already a signatory of the Marseille call for the establishment of such a registry on the French territory. Because France counts the cases of cancers only for 22% of its population.

"We do not have real data from our territories," says Muriel Andrieu-Semmel, head of the environmental health department at ARS Paca. The ones we have are made by modeling. In addition, cancer registries today do not take into account environmental factors, whose levels of knowledge have been increasing over the last ten years. "

"A real job as an investigator"

For Daniel Moutet, president of the association of defense and protection of the coast of the Gulf of Fos, the motion of the municipal council is thus almost a little short. "I would have gone further, I would have asked for an epidemiological study that also includes diabetes and asthma, all that must be followed as everywhere in Europe, except that in France the authorities do not put the money. A cancer registry requires the collection, crossover and analysis of many data. "A real job as an investigator," says Muriel Andrieu-Semmel, who evaluates this ant work to seven full-time equivalents. "We are on amounts that are close to one million euros for an annual operation," she says.

The ARS Paca wrote at the end of August to the Minister of Health, Agnès Buzyn, to claim to have on the area of ​​Berre the Etang a means of observation finer. "We are convinced that there is a specific health issue in this area," says Muriel Andrieu-Semmel, referring to the latest published studies on pollutants and a
cancer excess mortality in this area of ​​the order of 4.1%: "It is significant, it is not related to chance. In men, the proportion reaches 8.7%, and in the area of ​​Fos-sur-Mer and Port Saint-Louis, there is more than 34% of cancer mortality among men. "

An embryo registry was set up in 2012 in the Bouches-du-Rhône, Revela Observatory 13, which lists cases of kidney cancer, bladder and acute leukaemias. It should reveal its first results very soon, in the first half of 2019. "A register is a long-term job, says Muriel Andrieu-Semmel, it takes at least five years of data collection to have solid results." Which act.