Pollution scandal: 3M appeals against shutdown ruling

Pollution scandal: 3M appeals against shutdown ruling
© Belga

3M has filed an appeal with the Belgian Council of State against the environmental inspectorate of the Flemish government’s decision to stop certain production processes at its plant in Zwijndrecht.

The Department of Environment and the Agency for Care and Health ordered 3M to at least temporarily stop the production lines emitting PFAS on Friday, according to De Standaard.

The company had failed to convince the environmental inspectorate that the factory's emissions were not further harming the environment in the wake of a pollution scandal.

3M is appealing the measures, saying that they “would prevent us from serving our global customers in important industries, without any clear benefits for public health or the environment.”

The company claims it has “always openly shared information” with the competent authorities about the Zwijndrecht site in terms of wastewater discharges and air emissions, and about “health sciences and ecotoxicology, PFAS sampling and risk assessment information,” adding that they promise to keep doing so.

Translation: 3M still cannot offer any certainty about the risks of its PFAS emissions. Therefore @OmgevingsVL and @ZorgVlaanderen imposed a safety measure. From such a multinational we may expect more responsibility for the community and its employees.

But Flemish Minister for the Environment Zuhal Demir (N-VA) reacted to the appeal with disappointment.

“That does not show much sense of responsibility towards the community, the environment and its own employees,” she said.

“We regret that 3M does not simply accept measures that protect our environment and the health of people. Earlier it also appealed against stricter discharge standards from the province of Antwerp.”

Demir pointed out that the appeal does not have a suspensive effect, “so the production processes concerned will have to be stopped anyway.”

The Minister also intends to firmly defend the measures taken by the Environmental Inspection and Care and Health.

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