Belgium export tons of polluted soil to the Netherlands each year

Belgium export tons of polluted soil to the Netherlands each year
The Dutch law allows the dumpling of 'slightly polluted soil' in previous sand extraction ponds. Credit: Over de Maas

Belgium has been dumping polluted soil and demolition waste in Dutch natural ponds for years, a Dutch documentary revealed.

"In at least 60 Dutch natural ponds where sand has been mined, over 100 million cubic metres of polluted soil has been dumped," said investigative journalist Frans Glissenaar in his documentary TV show Zembla. Soil mixed with plastic waste, batteries and demolition material, but also toxic substances such as asbestos and arsenic were found.

"Some ponds are the property of Dutch sand miners. They once extracted pure sand from them, and now replace it with contaminated soil and construction waste, the majority of it coming from Belgium. This way, they cash the same check twice: first for selling the sand, then for dumping contaminated soil," Glissenaar said to De Morgen.

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In the sand extraction pond 'Over de Maas' in the Dutch village of Dreumel, "a massive amount" of plastic strips that are only used in Belgian road construction were found, according to Glissenaar.

The Dutch law allows the dumping of 'slightly polluted soil' in previous sand extraction ponds, as less deep ponds would be better for flora and fauna, but ecologist Piet-Jan Westendorp refutes this in the documentary.

However, the regulations leave much to be desired, according to the documentary."Hardly any samples are examined," said Glissenaar. "In 'Over de Maas', for example, polluted soil was dumped without anyone knowing where it came from. Almost all the paperwork that has to guarantee the quality of the soil in that pond has large information gaps," he added.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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