French sugar maker Tereos appeals against river spill fine

FILE PHOTO: The Tereos logo is displayed at a sugar beet processing plant in Chevrieres, France

PARIS (Reuters) - French sugar and ethanol maker Tereos has launched an appeal against a 9.5 million euro ($10.3 million) fine for the 2020 pollution of a river that flows from France to Belgium, the company said.

A leak in a 100,000 cubic metre settling pond at Tereos's Escaudoeuvres factory in northern France led to waste water spilling into a tributary of the Scheldt river, also known as the Escaut, killing thousands of fish.

The criminal court in Lille, northern France, imposed a fine of 500,000 euros and more than 9 million euros in damages.

"The cooperative disputes the severity of the sentence; it considers that the court did not sufficiently take into account the exceptional nature of this event, the circumstances in which it happened, as well as the multiple causes that may have contributed to its occurrence," Tereos said in an emailed statement.

Tereos also said it considered that the 9 million euros allocated to the Walloon region for ecological damage was not sufficiently justified and that the judgment did not fully take account of the work already done by Tereos for restoration of the Scheldt.

Tereos also has large operations in Brazil and is the world's second-largest sugar producer by volume.

($1 = 0.9205 euros)

(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by David Goodman)