Flanders puts the Netherlands in default over discharges into Meuse river

Flemish Environment minister Zuhal Demir has put the Netherlands in default over wastewater discharges into the Meuse river by water treatment company Sitech. According to the Belgian region, the Netherlands has violated international rules on environmental impact assessment. 

The company is based at the Chemelot industrial park in South Limburg. Questions have long been raised about Chemelot's discharges into the Meuse river on the border between Belgium and the Netherlands. Demir is calling for "rapid guarantees regarding the protection of health and the environment".

Chemelot received a new permit from the Dutch government in 2020 to discharge 14 tonnes of microplastics into the Meuse every year. The wastewater comes from the complex's treatment plant, which Sitech Services operates.

Demir has issued a formal notice of default, urging the Dutch government to take action

In granting the permit, "international rules on environmental impact assessment were violated, leading to a failure to properly assess the impact on the Flemish environment," Demir said. 

Demir had previously addressed her concerns about the water permit to the Dutch government. But so far, she said, this has only resulted in a few official consultations and a request to visit the company. She has now issued a formal notice of default, urging the Dutch government to take action.

If there is no clarification by 15 March, Demir is calling for an immediate halt to the discharges.

On behalf of the Flemish government, Demir is now demanding further clarification of the environmental and health guarantees by 15 March at the latest. 

If this does not happen, she is calling for an "immediate" halt to the discharges "until it can be demonstrated that the water permit has been reassessed and the discharges have been reduced to a level that is acceptable for human beings, water quality and the environment in general".

She also formally asked the Dutch government to "immediately confirm that the Flemish government will be consulted in the context of the (future) licensing of the Chemelot industrial complex with regard to potential transboundary impacts".


#FlandersNewsService | The Ur river just before it joins the Meuse river in the Dutch village of Urmond. Several Chemelot companies discharge their waste via the Ur © Photo ANP / Hollandse Hoogte / Roger Dohmen

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