Many fish died at various places in the Scheldt and Dender rivers during the weekend due to a lack of oxygen, the Flemish Waterways Agency, Vlaamse Waterweg, said on Monday.
The heavy rainfall drained a lot of waste into the rivers in a short period of time and the pumping stations were not able to treat all the polluted water in time, resulting in overflows into the rivers. “Such situations cannot be avoided,” the agency said.
Fish died in the Scheldt at Kerkhove, Waarmaarde (both in the province of West Flanders) and Kluisbergen (East Flanders) and in the Dender between Hofstade (Flemish Brabant) and Denderbelle (East Flanders).
“Together with the fire brigade, we pumped oxygen into the water in order to increase the oxygen content again,” explained Karen Buyse of Vlaamse Waterweg.
Since Sunday evening, the oxygen level has been restored and the pumping has been stopped.
“This weekend we concentrated mainly on saving the fish population. Over the next few days, we will have a better view of the quantity of fish affected, but this is certainly not comparable with, for example, the ecological disaster caused by the beet wash sludge in April. In this case, fish mortality is local and limited.”
Thousands of fish also died in Northern France near a Nestlé factory for the same reason. The company is being sued for causing pollution, though the cause of the dead fish there is still being examined, VRT NWS reported on Friday.