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Up to six tonnes of waste fished out of Ixelles Ponds

© Belga

Divers pulled up about 5 to 6 tonnes of waste on Sunday from the bottom of the Ixelles Ponds, next to Place Flagey, according to Nabil Messaoudi, alderman in charge of sanitation.

This included four weapons – three handguns, one of them very old, and a rifle – as well as six strongboxes.

Twelve strongboxes had already been fished from the pond during an exploratory dive in June.

Sunday’s haul further included about a dozen bicycles and many scooters, along with huge amounts of bottles, cans and glasses, coming mainly from the many bars nearby.

In total, some forty divers took part in the cleaning operation. The refuse filled the back of a garbage van from the city’s sanitation service as well as a dump truck, and there was still more to be collected later.

“It had not been done for 11 years and it is far from over given that in less than two hours we recovered all this,” Messaoudi remarked.

“Observe the reactions of some of the citizens when they see a patch of greenery like this,” Mayor Christos Doulkeridis said. “Naturally, cleanliness has to do with collectivities, but it has to do, first of all, with citizens and their sense of civic duty.”

Alderwoman for the Environment Audrey Lhoest, whose portfolio also includes Green Spaces and Plantations, welcomed the fact that waterways were being cleaned of batteries and other polluting substances.

She gave the assurance that the water quality, which was measured during the exploratory dive in July, was good.

“To combat the drought at the site and improve its biodiversity, we are testing new, indigenous, lively plants,” Ms Lhoest said. “These plants also discourage the Canada Geese and the Egyptian Geese, which can harm the site if there are too many of them. That gives us a slightly wilder landscape.

“Platforms are to be installed at certain points so that people can be closer to the water without harming the site,” she added.

The Brussels Times