settlement projects next to the unused remains of the powder mill

settlement projects next to the unused remains of the powder mill
settlement projects next to the unused remains of the powder mill

Vendured since 2012 in the Agglomeration of Bergerac (Dordogne), the land of the former ANS zone (for synthetic nitric acid), opposite the powder mill, bears witness to the past and still arouses the curiosity of residents. A few weeks ago, one of them posted on the Facebook page You are from Bergerac when… a photo of the brick aqueducts which dot this fifteen hectare land with a simple question: what are these ruins? opposite Eurenco?

It is necessary to go back far into the past (more than a century) to find its origin. “It was about creating another factory for the First World War,” explains Jean-Louis Dubord, former powder maker and son of a powder maker. But the armistice was signed before and there was never any production. » The aqueduct-shaped constructions made of refractory bricks were, in fact, supports for acid vats. These were placed high up to play on gravity and avoid pumping, specifies Georges Barberolle, in the booklet on the centenary of powder snow published by his association in 2015.

The pyrite furnace was to be used in the powder manufacturing process.

Nancy Ladde

Heritage value?

Launched in March 1917, this installation was planned to produce 120 tonnes of acid per day which was to be used to make cotton powder, the basis of powder at the time. As early as 1912, a water tower was built, still visible, to supply this future factory. “In fact, we use several kinds of water depending on the production,” summarizes Jean-Louis Dubord. A few meters from this building, there is also a pyrite furnace which was also to be used in the powder manufacturing cycle.

At the time of the purchase by the Agglomeration, Dominique Rousseau, who was its president, insisted that the water tower remain in place and questioned the heritage value of certain works.

The water tower has been preserved and is included in the plot of the Bergerac Matériaux valorization company.

Nancy Ladde

“It’s a symbol of what blowing snow was,” said Jean-Louis Dubord. There was a real city within a city that stretched all the way to Creysse. Housing, a hospital, a maternity ward and a parish. » At a time when Eurenco is developing with the relocation of powder manufacturing, the Bergeracois recalls that there had already been two planned extensions of the powder mill in 1914 and 1939. “And today, it is because that there is a military conflict at the gates of Europe,” underlines Jean-Louis Dubord.

Change in the fall?

This area, intended for economic development, has remained very sparse for twelve years. Ten years ago, companies were announced, but neither the courier company, nor the Bio Inox factory, nor the companies specializing in biomass ultimately took the plunge. Only a construction site materials recycling unit has been installed in the area subject to certain restrictions linked to the proximity of the Seveso site, via a Natural Flood Risk Prevention Plan. Thus, the companies hosted on the site must be of an industrial nature and cannot receive the public.

The companies hosted on the site must be of an industrial nature and cannot receive the public

“But that could change as early as this fall,” says Frédéric Delmarès, president of the Bergerac urban community (CAB). We have the transporter Mauffrey, based in Creysse, who wants to set up. Others, such as the boilermaking company Sotech, have also reserved land. » Information confirmed by Stéphane Binvenu, the co-manager of this structure. “We plan to move there in three to four years according to our industrial strategy and as part of France Relance,” specifies the boss.

As for the ruins, nothing says that they will not be destroyed. “The powder heritage is very rich, we would have liked to create a museum,” indicates Jean-Louis Dubord.

On the Eurenco side, the work continues

Launched in March – the first stone was laid by the President of the Republic in April – the powder factory project is ramping up. It must accommodate nearly 350 workers in July and August, at peak activity, for delivery of the 15 buildings by October. They will then be equipped with the necessary machines for a gradual increase in production from January 2025. The factory should reach cruising speed in the summer of 2025, or 1,200 tonnes of powder per year. An extension is already planned to reach 1,800 tonnes.
In 2026, the company should employ around 500 people, compared to just over 300 currently. On the investment side, this represents nearly 60 million euros (including 10 million from the French State). Eurenco is also accelerating the manufacturing of modular charges for 155 mm cannons.



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