John Libbey Eurotext

Environnement, Risques & Santé

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Health in the discourse of local “associations” opposed to landfills: An initial exploration of their websites Volume 11, issue 5, Septembre-Octobre 2012

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Université de Lyon INSA de Lyon, EVS, UMR 5600 1, rue des humanités 69621 Villeurbanne France, ECOGEOS 5, rue du Jeu-de-Paume 62000 Arras France, IRSTEA 1, rue Pierre-Gilles-de-Gennes 92761 Antony cedex France

Waste is a complex object. Simultaneously perceived by some as an environmental and health threat and by others as an economic resource, its associations and connotations are mainly negative, and social mobilization around its management is growing. Some conflicts around sanitary landfills are fed by differences in the understanding and perception of risks: health assessments reveal many uncertainties. The discourse of local associations opposing these landfills alternates between warnings, information, and expressions of concern about the potential risks and nuisances for nearby residents. The role of these associations is central in the unfolding of controversies, as stated by many authors in some of their works. But what precisely is their discourse on these conflicts and to what extent do they rely on health arguments? This paper offers some thoughts based on a database of local associations opposed to landfills for non-hazardous waste. An exploratory analysis then examined the content of the discourse for those associations with a website as a showcase for group mobilization. Elements of reflection about the health arguments were obtained and avenues to examine this discourse in greater depth were formulated. This analysis is part of a project initiated recently on conflicts around such equipment, as part of the “Déchets & société” program of the French Environmental Agency.