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10 Июл 2020

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

On 9 July 2020, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), its member organisations Observatorio Ciudadano (Chile), Ligue des droits de l'Homme (France) and Red Ambiental Ciudadana de Osorno sent a formal request to Suez under the French Duty of Vigilance law. In their request, the NGOs ask Suez to modify its vigilance plan to include detailed and adequate measures to mitigate and prevent the risk of human rights abuses linked to its subsidiary ESSAL in Chile.

In July 2019, 2,000 litres of oil were released in a drinking-water treatment plant operated by the company in Osorno, Chile. The spill led to a 10-day city-wide water cut, affecting 49,000 households and essential services, including hospitals, health centres and retirement homes. The spill also reached two local rivers, the Rahue and Damas.

This is the sixth time a company was formally notified to comply with its duty of vigilance since the French law came into force.

In this story, learn more about the circumstances of the case and the NGO request, and download Suez' latest vigilance plan.

On 7 June 2021, the four NGOs filed a complaint against water giant Suez, alleging the company failed to take action following their formal request in 2020.

On 1 June 2023, a French tribunal dismissed the case because Vigie Groupe SAS (formerly Suez Groupe SAS) could not be considered a defendant in the case and that NGOs did not summoned the company on the basis of the same vigilance plan as in their formal notice. The NGOs will appeal the decision.

On 5 March 2024, the Suez case was one of three cases to be heard before the new chamber of the Paris Court of Appeal, dedicated to litigation based on the French Duty of Vigilance Law and environmental liability claims. The hearing also dealt with the EDF Mexico and Total Climate cases.

In June 2024, the Court declared the case inadmissible under the French Law on the Duty of Vigilance, noting that the company had not clarified which entity within the group was responsible for the duty of vigilance.