Extinction Rebellion targets LafargeHolcim cement plant in Paris

PARIS, June 30 (Reuters) - Dozens of Extinction Rebellion protesters on Wednesday invaded a cement-making plant in Paris operated by construction giant LafargeHolcim to denounce what they called the firm’s environmentally damaging pursuit of profit.

Lafarge workers in hard hats and fluorescent jackets sat on the ground as the protesters daubed graffiti across the site and hung banners, one of which read: “Build to death”.

The protest forced Swiss-headquartered LafargeHolcim to halt operations at the Port de Javel site near the Eiffel Tower and divert trucks to another site.

“We need to act now! We know what needs doing and it’s to stop this constant pursuit of growth and reduce carbon emissions. And for that to happen we need to stop using cement,” said one protester who identified himself as Adrien.

Loic Leuliette, a spokesperson for LafargeHolcim France, said the company was investing in ‘greener’ cement.

A day earlier, the protesters, who include activists from the NGO Soulevements de la Terre, targetted another LafargeHolcim site on the northern fringe of Paris.

Leuliette said the unit at the site of Wednesday’s protest was due to be replaced with a more modern plant in 2022.

“If there is one thing we share with the protesters, it’s concern for the environment. But our responsibility is to supply cement to the construction sector,” Leuliette said. “The cement from here builds hospitals and schools.”

In September last year, the Paris prosecutor opened an investigation after video emerged of a Lafarge cement mixer discharging a white liquid in the river Seine. Waste was also dumped into the river from the Port de Javel site, according to a campaign group at the time.

LafargeHolcim said at the time it was taking action to make sure there were no repeats. (Reporting by Antony Paone Writing by Richard Lough Editing by Mark Potter)