Court holds French state responsible in death of horse on beach choked with toxic algae

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A court in western France has held the French state responsible for the 2009 death of a horse on a Brittany beach when it was choked with toxic algae.

The decision at an appeals court in Nantes represents a major victory for ecologists and for the horse's owner, Vincent Petit, who nearly died himself when he and his mount were suddenly mired in muck that gave off toxic hydrogen sulfide emitted by rotting algae.

The court ruled Monday that France failed to put in place "in a sufficient manner" national and European rules to protect water against pollution from agriculture.

Fertilizer is a known cause of algae blooms. Pig farms and other agricultural activities are the backbone of the economy in the Cotes d'Armor region where the accident occurred.