Flanders signs agreement with US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Flemish minister of Environment Zuhal Demir (N-VA, Flemish nationalists) has signed an agreement with the American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States capital of Washington. The government services of the Belgian region and the EPA intend to exchange information about the environmental problems they face.
For twenty years already, the United States has been struggling with the PFAS contamination that is now also affecting Flanders. In Flanders, unsafe levels of "forever chemical" PFAS were detected in the soil and water near the factory of chemical company 3M in Zwijndrecht in 2021.
In Decatur, Alabama, 3M has a plant that is comparable to the one in Zwijndrecht.
"Contaminated drinking water, extensive soil contamination, fish full of chemicals and leaking contaminated sludge. They have seen it all in Decatur. And yet we could have learned so much from it. That mistake can never be made again. With this agreement, we are taking the first important step towards preventing it," says Demir.
The Flemish Environment Minister is currently on a five-day working visit to the US, mainly to discuss PFAS pollution. The PFAS investigation committee that looked into the 3M pollution in Zwijndrecht put forward international cooperation on environmental challenges in Flanders as a priority.
Flemish Minister of Environment, Energy, Tourism and Justice Zuhal Demir © BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK