The wastewater from a landfill in Kruibeke, operated by De Vlaamse Waterweg, contains five times more uranium and up to eleven times more cobalt than is legally permitted. This was revealed in a study by pano. The public prosecutor’s office is investigating the case and Minister of Public Works Lydia Peeters (Open VLD) has also decided to temporarily shut down the landfill.
For a while too much toxic waste was discharged into the Scheldt from the landfill on the border of Kruibeke and Zwijndrecht, sometimes via a canal. This was revealed on Wednesday from a report by pano. The editors were able to view a report from the environmental inspectorate, which had taken measurements at the landfill site. It states that the applicable standards for beryllium were exceeded 3.5 times, those for uranium five times and for cobalt up to 11 times. An official report has been drawn up and the public prosecutor of East Flanders is investigating the case.
Measurements from October 2021 led to a ‘priority official report’ in March 2022, which is now on the offices of the Public Prosecutor’s Office of East Flanders. The measured values in the waste water far exceed the standard, as it turns out.
‘Not up to date’
Flemish Minister of Public Works Lydia Peeters (Open VLD) said she was not aware of the official report of the environmental inspectorate. According to the minister, he immediately asked for text and explanation from De Vlaamse Waterweg. “I was not aware myself, the board of directors of De Vlaamse Waterweg was not informed either,” says the minister. “I have clearly shown that this is not the way it should be,” she tells the VRT. According to the Peeters cabinet, it has also been agreed with De Vlaamse Waterweg that such a thing will no longer be possible in the future.’
The minister has also decided to temporarily shut down the landfill. That will take until there is an opinion from external experts who will have to look at whether or not there is a danger to public health. ‘It was decided today to appoint those experts. The aim is to quickly gain clarity, in particular about the possible risks to public health,” the cabinet said. ‘I don’t know whether this situation is serious,’ says the minister, ‘but we cannot take any risks with public health.’
The Flemish Waterway responds in writing to the official report. According to the company, the increased concentrations may be due to ‘historical pollution of the environment’ or the substances are ‘naturally present’. In its own words, the Vlaamse Waterweg also immediately met the action points in the PV. De Waterweg still denies that they would have accepted sludge without a permit.