Share article:
Share article:

Foul odour at Port of Antwerp under investigation

Photo from The Port of Antwerp.

The Flemish Environment Agency (VMM) and the Port of Antwerp are investigating the cause of an odour nuisance after multiple complaints regarding the stench.

Elevated concentrations of benzene in the Port were measured by VMM overnight between this past Sunday and Monday. No further increases have been observed since that peak, but the two agencies are investigating what could have caused it, and if it is indeed related to the smell.

Benzene is found in the environment fairly often, mostly as a result of industrial processes.

“We inhale benzene every day, often in petrol stations, through car exhausts, glues, paints, detergents or tobacco smoke,” the Port said in a press release. “You are also exposed to elevated concentrations of benzene in the air near chemical plants. Very high concentrations or permanent exposure can cause serious health risks.”

Related News


EU regulations stipulate that the limit for benzene should not exceed 5µg/m³ as an annual average, regulations with which the Port says it complies.

“However, during the night from Sunday to Monday, benzene concentrations temporarily rose above the emission threshold of 5µg/m³, which explains why there were nuisance complaints.”

Multiple reports of an odour nuisance were received at the beginning of the week.

“Of course we also understand that the odours are annoying and raise questions or concerns,” the Port said in its statement. “The VMM is currently carrying out analyses and we are awaiting the results.”

Odour issues in the Port of Antwerp can have many causes, including the degassing, loading or unloading of ships, or normal residues released during industrial processes. Both the VMM and the Antwerp Port Authority jointly monitor the air quality at the Port of Antwerp.

“When the Port of Antwerp receives complaints about odour nuisance, we always investigate them,” said the statement. “We check whether we can link them to incidents that have occurred at companies in the port. If there is a link, we always talk to the company concerned and see how we can avoid this in the future.”

If it appears that mistakes have been made by a company, the Port says the harbour master will act against this within his powers.

Helen Lyons
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Belgian Health Minister wants pharmacists to administer vaccines
Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke has said he wants to change Belgium's law to allow pharmacists to administer Covid-19 vaccines against, ...
Ruined photos from flood victims restored for free
Much of what victims of this summer’s deadly flooding lost is irreplaceable, but when it comes to photographs that were ruined, a Brussels company is ...
New Belgian video game aims to help children who stutter
A new video game by Belgian-American start-up Say It Labs aims to teach children with a stutter various techniques to improve their speech.  ...
More than 1 in 4 Belgians use mobile phones whilst driving
A recent European study into the use of mobile phones whilst driving highlights some alarming results: 26% of Belgians read or send messages on their ...
Belgium in Brief: Memories Of Masks
Belgium's experts are concerned with the rising coronavirus figures. One possible solution could be that, once again, masks are used more widely. ...
Museum Night Fever returns to Brussels on Saturday night
After a break last year, Museum Night Fever 2021 is back again with free visits to 32 museums hosting performances, music and other events. The ...
More than €1.5 billion injected into SNCB
More than €1.5 billion in additional funding has been injected into the Belgian railways, Federal Mobility Minister Georges Gilkinet told the House ...
Non-vaccinated applicants no longer welcome at ZNA hospitals in Antwerp
The Antwerp hospital group ZNA is only taking on new employees who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to reporting from VRT. ...
Pharmacies prepare to administer more rapid antigen tests
From November, anyone presenting coronavirus symptoms for less than six days will be able to take a rapid antigen test in a pharmacy, announced the ...
Chocolate, Christmas, and cocaine
Do you consider yourself a news buff? Someone constantly on top of what's going on? Then maybe you have what it takes to ace The Brussels Times ...
Introduction of Covid Safe Ticket leads more in Brussels to get vaccinated
The introduction of the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) in the Brussels-Capital Region on 15 October seems to have led to a higher number of residents ...
More and more testimonies, and a second rally against sexual violence in Brussels
A second rally against sexual violence was held in the Brussels neighbourhood of Ixelles on Thursday evening, and a sister-rally was held ...