Share article:
Share article:

Major pollution of Scheldt river came from France

The river Scheldt at Kluisbergen in East Flanders. © Spotter2 Wikimedia

A serious discharge of pollution into the Scheldt river close to the French border came from Cambrai, some 100km further upstream in France, investigators said.

The pollution had reduced the oxygen levels in the water to zero at a location near Herinnes in Hainaut province, where West Flanders and Wallonia come together. Local people as well as environmental workers were forced to use buckets to try to rescue as many fish as possible from the river to save them from suffocating to death.

Those they managed to catch were placed in a pond nearby.

The discharge was traced to a sugar beet processing factory at Cambrai, Tereos Escaudoeuvres, where a retaining wall had collapsed, releasing 100,000 cubic metres of beet pulp into the river.

The part of the Scheldt between Flanders and France is dead for the time being,” commented Alain Dillen of the Flemish agency for nature and forests.

Beet pulp, he explained, acts as a sponge for oxygen. The bacteria which consume the waste use up all the oxygen in the pulp, and when the pulp was released into the river water, the bacteria soaked up that oxygen, too.

The agency installed pumps downstream at Kluisbergen, Oudenaarde and Zwalm to pump oxygen from the air into the water.

We have seven of them, but we know already that the fire brigade is going to have to step in. It will take three or four days before the pollution has passed, and since it is not raining, the polluted water is not being diluted,” Dillen said.

We have warned the city of Ghent to close their flood defences, otherwise the pollution will enter the city. And it could kill all life in the water for years to come.”

The damage caused by the discharge is not to be underestimated.

This pollution is worse than the incident in 2012,” Dillen said. “Then it took five years to bring the fish levels back up to normal. It’s terrible how three years after life in the Scheldt gets back to normal another even worse catastrophe happens.”

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Experts call for more widespread use of masks as figures rise
As coronavirus figures continue to rise, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has suggested that people return to wearing masks when indoors with ...
Belgium wants to recover €420 million in wrongfully paid out coronavirus aid
The Belgian State intends to recover €420 million of unduly paid Covid-19 aid, La Libre Belgique reported on Thursday. The electronic Council of ...
Why the fight for transgender rights is polarising Europe 
Year after year, Samuel De Schepper would ask Santa Claus to bring him a penis for Christmas. Born female and attending an all girl’s Catholic ...
New offshore wind farm officially opened
Despite being operational since the end of 2020, the SeaMade offshore wind farm was officially inaugurated on Wednesday by Prime Minister Alexander ...
Contact tracers have no time for calls, only texts, amid rising cases
Contract tracers will no longer make phone calls to the high-risk contacts of people who test positive for the coronavirus beginning from Wednesday, ...
Belgium holds on to top spot in FIFA rankings despite recent losses
Once again, Belgium's Red Devils have held onto their position at the top of the world football rankings, according to an update released by the ...
Proximus pushes for high-speed internet in Brussels and Wallonia
Fifteen municipalities in Wallonia should soon have access to high-speed internet through the rollout of fibre optics in the region, telecoms giant ...
World’s largest chocolate warehouse opens in Flanders
On Thursday, Barry Callebaut – the largest global chocolate processor and manufacturer – opened the world's largest chocolate warehouse in Lokeren, ...
Belgium in Brief: Equal Opportunity To Dance
There's a phrase where I'm from, more often said in jest nowadays, but it came to my mind this morning: "Ye dancin'?" (Are you dancing?), one ...
Farmer discovers cocaine in banana boxes bought in Brussels
A Flemish farmer who purchased boxes of bananas at the market in Brussels on Tuesday came home to discover large amounts of cocaine packed among the ...
Changes to speed cameras increase likelihood of a ticket
Changes to the way speed cameras work in Flanders and Wallonia will increase the likelihood of receiving a ticket when cars pass them above the ...
Why Belgium is regulating sex work
After decades of confusing rules and hypocritical policy, Belgium is finally regulating sex work by removing prostitution from the criminal law. ...