3M must take "urgent" action against PFOS dust spread, says Flanders
Chemical company 3M must "urgently take appropriate measures" against dust causing additional soil pollution around its site in Zwijndrecht, according to the Flemish environment department. Lantis, which is responsible for the construction of the Oosterweel Link, is already implementing these measures, the department said.
In early July, the Flemish government announced that air measurements taken between mid-May and mid-June showed very high concentrations of PFOS in the Neerstraat in Zwijndrecht, Antwerp. Although there was no immediate threat to public health, 3M was asked to take additional measures against dust dispersion.
The measures included the installation of a water vapour screen, no digging during high wind speeds, covering soil transport and storage, and additional dust monitoring at the site. "Lantis is already applying these dust control measures during excavation," the Environment ministry said.
More is needed
3M also has until today to submit a dust mitigation plan prepared by an accredited soil remediation expert. The company is already making some efforts, such as spraying parts of the site and covering parts of the site with gravel. But more is needed, according to a report by an independent study firm, to avoid exceeding the soil remediation standards for PFOS in soil and groundwater in the short term.
"It goes without saying that companies should be asked to assume their social responsibility to reduce their impact," said Flemish Environment minister Zuhal Demir. "Our society has a right to it. That is why I am counting on them to implement the reminders of the various departments as soon as possible".
In June 2021, PFOS contamination caused by 3M was discovered during work on the Oosterweel Link, a construction project on the Antwerp ring road. PFAS is the umbrella term for thousands of so-called 'forever chemicals', quasi-undegradable synthetic substances, including PFOS, found in a wide range of products from raincoats to smartphones to fireproof foam.
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