Legitimizing Risky Industrial Activities: Regulation or "Economically Acceptable"?
This paper questions the implementation of the French Bachelot Act, which have created the major “Technological Risks Prevention Plans” (TRPP) as they are applied to an industrial and port zone. It reveals how a regulation aiming at protecting industrial activities and urban zones through their separation, can generate a strong tension between economic interests. One reason of this tension comes from the very notion of economic acceptability, used by Seveso companies in order to put limits to demands formulated by the environmental administration. Even if this notion is considered by the Bachelot Act and previous regulations, paradoxically it has no formal definition. So it can be used by companies without any possibility of a public control. Nevertheless, it quickly appears that what is considered as acceptable by Seveso companies may be inacceptable by other companies. So the economic acceptability is a much more complicated notion than supposed (and not defined) in industrial risks regulations. Actually, the Bachelot Act could force non Seveso big and small companies to delocalize because it creates non-risks zones around Seveso plants. Thus local decision makers engage themselves in a process of adapting and rearranging the rules of the Bachelot Act, asking the French government for support. Finally, some kind of “side law” has been invented by State to find a solution to the tensions between economic interests.
Index terms - Technological Risks, Economic Acceptability, Industrial Zones, Regulation