Illegal PFAS emissions, some of which are toxic, were detected this week at the 3M company in Zwijndrecht (Antwerp province), Flemish Environment Minister Zuhal Demir said on Saturday, citing information from the Flemish environment department.
Perfluoroalkylated substances that are persistent in the human body and the environment were found this week at the 3M plant in Flanders. After the discovery, the production process responsible for these emissions has been halted, the minister added.
With experts having believed that PFAS emissions were negligible, production had restarted. However, checks have shown the contrary, partly due to leaks in the treatment plant.
For the Flemish authorities, exceeding the health value is not acceptable and the process cannot therefore continue.
As a precautionary measure, and pending further analysis of the other production processes linked to PFAS, all production processes emitting perfluoroalkyl substances have been stopped. The impact of the unexpected emission of the chemical substance is being thoroughly investigated.
“I have also ordered an investigation to determine how long 3M had known about this without informing the government,” points out Demir. “In this case, we will not hesitate to prosecute the company for violating its obligation to protect the environment. In my view, any legal step can be taken after these events, including the withdrawal of the company’s environmental permit. All options will be examined over the coming weeks.