This article was published in the daily newspaper Le Méridional, France, page 20, 20 janvier 1981.
Etang de Berre
The mysteries of the vibrations and the yellow light
Total mystery! The strange vibrations recorded these recent nights in the area of Berre remain unexplainable. A certainty however: they are not of seismic origin, and it is already reassuring information. In no case can the vibrations that some felt, initially in the night from Saturday to Sunday, towards 01:05 a.m., then in the night from Sunday to Monday at 02:50 and 03:20, be allotted to an earthquake, even of very low intensity.
Failing to come into contact with the specialists in the atomic Center of Cadarache owning measuring devices, the seismographs of the Institute of the Earth of Strasbourg are formal: they did not trace any magnitude effect on the Alsatian network although they, by the way, had perfectly recorded the recent seism in the Italian south. That is to say that distance matters little, and Strasbourg observes this detail rebuking the assumption of an earth tremor: the very description of the phenomenon accompanied by "a roar similar to that of a jet engine in activity" is not in conformity with somethinf of seismic nature.
And yet many people whose metabolism and mental health cannot be blamed apparently did not dream, and several of them, that it is in Martigues, Berre, Marignane or Velaux, "lived" the thing while bringing their testimonys. A mystery all the more thickened since it is favourable to all kinds of hasty interpretations, even of nonsense.
But to elucidate a mystery, it is nevertheless necessary to establish a causal link by induction (the method is Cartesian!), one then thought of the petrochemical complex of Berre. In Shell Chimie precisely where, for fifteen days, one has carried out commissioning tests of a vapo-cracker at the Aubette plant.
Questioned on this subject by our care, the direction of this factory emitted, yesterday afternoon, a categorical denial to that what must actually be called an extrapolation. "Our expert technicians did not notice anything abnormal in the factory of the Aubette, states a spokesman. There was neither deflagration, nor explosion.
The only disadvantages with an oil well flame is in the gigantic flame, visible from far away during the night. But we had taken care to inform the population of it: these vibrations have nothing to do with our factory."
As regards the Gendarmes, neither the brigade of Martigues, nor that of Berre, opened an investigation. In Berre, the gendarmes are all the more perplexed since they are established near the Shell-Chemistry but did not feel anything. No vibration!
So? So some looked up towards the sky. They saw there "an unusual orange gleam", allusion not formulated to the passage of a flying saucer or something similar: You said extraterrestrial?