Antwerp port expansion jeopardised by PFAS pollution
25 May 2023
The expansion of the Port of Antwerp-Bruges, a project known as the Extra Container Capacity Antwerp (ECA), could be delayed due to the discovery of PFAS chemicals in the area, ECA environment manager Maarten Goris reported on Thursday.
For years, port operators have been asking for more capacity. Delays to the expansion are now expected, as PFAS has been found near a planned new dock. The duration is hard to predict, "although the companies would rather see the extra capacity today than tomorrow", Goris said. "But the PFAS we now find in our large-scale surveys forces us to investigate further."
According to Goris, it is good that the PFAS was found at this "early stage". The PFAS in the soil appears to be isolated, but it is more dispersed in the water. "There are different techniques to excavate a dock," said Goris. "It remains to be seen which option is best. But it is certainly not the case that the entire ECA project is blocked."
"The compromise reached between interest groups should safeguard the project from further delays due to objections"
Port magazine Flows reports that this is not the first time the ECA has been delayed. In 2016, the project's Spatial Implementation Plan was rejected by the Council of State, Belgium's supreme administrative court. "However, the Flemish government, the Port of Antwerp-Bruges and Left Bank Corporation reached a breakthrough with the Left Bank Alliance last year. This compromise between interest groups should safeguard the project from further delays due to objections," Flows said.
According to the researchers, the source of the PFAS is unclear. Meanwhile, the investigation results have been submitted to Flanders' Public Waste Agency and the Care and Health Agency.
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