French Justice Rejects Lawsuit for the Osorno Water Crisis

Paris Court of Appeal, 2024. Photo: X/ @fidh_es

June 18, 2024 Hour: 2:32 pm

In 2019, a hydrocarbon spill contaminated the Osorno drinking water distribution network, affecting 100,000 Chileans.

On Tuesday, the Paris Court of Appeal declared inadmissible the lawsuit filed by several human rights organizations against the multinational company Suez over the crisis that occurred in the city of Osorno due to contamination of the drinking water system managed by its subsidiary Essal.


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The judges consider that the complaint was not filed against the entity truly responsible for preparing the “vigilance plan,” which is a requirement established by a 2017 French law for multinationals to account for risks of human rights or environmental violations.

According to the ruling, the lawsuit should have been directed against Suez SA, the parent company, and not against Suez SAS, which encompasses its foreign subsidiaries. The International Federation for Human Rights, Observatorio Ciudadano, Red Ambiental de Osorno, and the Human Rights League, however, filed their lawsuit against Suez SAS.

Julie Fevrier, a lawyer for the humanitarian NGOs, explained that it is now impossible to file a lawsuit against Suez SA as it was absorbed by Veolia, which was not the owner of Essal when the events occurred.

On July 11, 2019, a hydrocarbon spill contaminated the Osorno drinking water distribution network, affecting approximately 49,000 homes with over 100,000 people.

This incident took place amidst multiple accusations against Suez’s subsidiary for negligence and dysfunctions, which led to a street protest involving thousands of people demanding the end of the concession.

French law stipulates that multinationals operating abroad must have preventive vigilance plans. If the court had examined the merits of the case and condemned Suez, the company would have had to adjust its vigilance plan in accordance with French regulations.

Source: EFE teleSUR/ JF

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