Mechelen wants answers regarding potential pollution from a local factory

Mechelen wants answers regarding potential pollution from a local factory
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The Chemours Belgium plant in Mechelen, which was a DuPont de Nemours plant until 2015, appears in a report about perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), and the City Council wants an explanation.

PFOS is the same substance found to be causing health risks for residents in Antwerp, where the source of the pollution is believed to be a factory run by 3M.

The Mechelen City Council is organising an impromptu meeting on Tuesday to receive an explanation from the Public Waste Agency of Flanders (OVAM), the environmental inspectorate behind the report.

“We want to provide clarity, not only for ourselves, but also for all inhabitants of Mechelen,” said alderwoman for the environment Marina De Bie in a statement.

“By bringing together all the parties involved, we ensure that we have all the necessary information. Depending on the outcome of the consultation, we will know whether additional research is needed and/or what additional measures will be required.”

OVAM published the results of an investigation at the end of June 2018, according to De Standaard, which focused on the presence of PFAS in the groundwater, soil, and river and steam beds.

Poly and perfluoroalkyl substances do not occur naturally, but are chemical substances produced artificially by humans. PFOS, which caused the contamination in Zwijndrecht, also belongs to this category.

The pollution issue there has caused sharp political divides in Flanders.

That same OVAM report about PFOS explicitly mentions the factory in the Antoon Spinoystraat in Mechelen-Zuid as a production site, and mentions its use of PTFE, better known as Teflon.

In 2015, DuPont transferred these activities to the independent company Chemours.

“They are two separate, listed companies,” said Willem Buitelaar, spokesperson for DuPont.

“I understand the question, but I cannot answer it,” Buitelaar said in response to De Standaard's inquiry, and the outlet said no one at Chemours Belgium could be reached for a comment.

OVAM said it would not be able to respond to questions about the matter until a later time.

The Brussels Times

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