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9 Jul 2020

International Federation for Human Rights

In the wake of the Osorno health emergency in Chile, SUEZ is served notice to amend its vigilance plan

Four organizations have today written to Bertrand Camus, SUEZ CEO, to ask him to provide details of the company’s planregarding its activities in Chile, where the multinational has a water-supply market share greater than 43%. Any failure to respond to this formal notice and to introduce appropriate measures will potentially be followed up with legal action before French courts. In July 2019, the inhabitants of Osorno were deprived of water for ten days and a health warning issued due to contamination of the drinking-water supply following a further operational incident at ESSAL, controlled by SUEZ. This followed ongoing malfunctions, instances of negligence, and failures, which had been repeatedly signaled by the Chilean inspection bodies, who had previously referred to an “increased risk” arising from these operational irregularities.

Four NGOs have now served formal notice on Suez that it must comply with the French Law on Corporate Duty of Vigilance of 27 March 2017. They call on the company to take the necessary measures to respond to repeated failures and illegal actions in its provision of a drinking-water supply to Osorno, and to prevent another health emergency arising in the city or any other settlement in Chile, where ESSAL and other companies controlled by the French group operate...

On 10 July 2019, 2000 liters of oil were released at the Caipulli drinking-water treatment plant operated by the Suez subsidiary in the city of Osorno. The plant’s water source was contaminated with hydrocarbons, thereby affecting the entire water supply for 49,000 households, equivalent to 140,500 inhabitants (97.9% of the city’s population). The contamination also reached two water courses – the Rahue and Damas rivers...

During this crisis period, the health emergency grew worse because of the delayed and incomplete installation of alternative water-supply points that should have been immediately put in place by ESSAL. ..

Part of the following timelines

Suez sent formal request to comply with its duty of vigilance under French law or face potential litigation, following sanitary crisis in Chile

NGOs file complaint against Suez for alleged failure to respect French duty of vigilance law following sanitary crisis in Chile