Polluter Pays, Prevention, Damages, Administrative

The joint municipal authority on the sewage collection and purification of the Bas Vallon de Saint Imier requested the court to quash the act of the regional prefect cancelling their decision to levy compensating charges from  two companies for the contamination of the sewage sludge with heavy metals making them improper for agricultural usages, and therefore to be recycled.

The joint municipal authority point out that the federal environmental law recognizes the polluter pays principle and allows local entities to impose compensation charges in cases where a serious causal link can be established. Here the analysis of the sewage sludge revealed that the heavy metals where the one resulting from the defendants. Therefore, the joint municipality authority claims that they should pay for the environmental damages and the special costs resulting from this pollution.

The court followed the decision of the regional prefect who had cancelled the compensation charges on the basis that the one year prescription established by the federal was already over when the joint municipal authority took the decision to charges the two defendants. Therefore the court dismissed the appeal.