3M production process shut down after illegal PFAS emissions
Flemish authorities have shut down part of production at chemical company 3M's plant in Zwijndrecht after detecting illegal emissions of PFAS synthetic chemicals.
The plant had to shut down all PFAS-emitting production processes in 2021 after it was found to have caused widespread contamination with the "forever chemical" PFOS.
Production was later restarted because experts said PFAS emissions were negligible. Tests this week showed that was not the case, partly due to leaks in the process equipment. Flemish authorities shut down the process because exceeding the test levels is prohibited.
As a precautionary measure and pending re-analysis of the other PFAS-related production processes, all PFAS processes at the site have been shut down. The impact of the emissions is being thoroughly investigated.
"In the meantime, I have also ordered an investigation into how long 3M knew about this without informing the government," said Flemish Environment minister Zuhal Demir (N-VA, Flemish nationalists).
"In that case, we will not fail to prosecute the company for violating its environmental duty," she said. "As far as I am concerned, any legal step is negotiable after these facts, including cancelling its environmental permit. All options will be considered in the coming weeks."
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