Five times more uranium than allowed: “Flemish Waterway discharged toxic waste into the Scheldt” (Kruibeke)

Five times more uranium than allowed: “Flemish Waterway discharged toxic waste into the Scheldt” (Kruibeke)
Five times more uranium than allowed: “Flemish Waterway discharged toxic waste into the Scheldt” (Kruibeke)

The wastewater from a landfill in Kruibeke, operated by De Vlaamse Waterweg, contains 5 times more uranium and up to 11 times more cobalt than is legally permitted. The carcinogenic substances nickel and beryllium also exceed the standard. The wastewater ended up directly or via a canal in the Scheldt, according to an official report that the editors of the VRT program ‘Pano’ could view. An investigation was opened in March and is still ongoing, says the East Flanders Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Measurements from October 2021 led to a “priority official report” in March 2022, which is now on the offices of the East Flanders public prosecutor’s office. It appears that the measured values ​​in the wastewater far exceed the standard.

For example, 5 times more uranium was found in the water that went to the Scheldt than is legally permitted. Cobalt was also up to 11 times more common in the water that was discharged into the canal. And also nickel and beryllium exceeded the standard.

The environmental inspection also established that at least 23,000 tons of sludge ended up in the landfill from a West Flemish company that processes waste. And the landfill had no permit at all for that, says the environmental inspectorate in the official report.

On Wednesday evening, De Vlaamse Waterweg announced in a press release after the broadcast of the report that “it has a legally valid environmental permit for this site for the operation of a dumping site for dredging sludge and/or clearance sludge, contaminated soil, soil cleaning residues and non-hazardous asbestos-containing dredging sludge.” and soil, of which the discharge of industrial waste water into the Scheldt is part”. According to De Vlaamse Waterweg, the exploitation of the site is in accordance with the permit conditions.

“No discharge standards from the permit are exceeded in the leachate, contrary to what is stated. The concentrations of the parameters cadmium and nickel are lower than the discharge standards included in the permit, and no discharge standards are included in the permit for the parameters cobalt, uranium and beryllium.

According to De Vlaamse Waterweg, the analyzed water samples, mentioned in the Pano report, concern “rainwater that was collected on the surrounding sites that did not come into contact with dumped waste”. “Finally, there is also an accepted batch of soil remediation residues that would not comply with our environmental permit. However, it concerns a batch of soil remediation residues from a licensed soil remediation center, which is permitted within the environmental permit”, it sounds.

The East Flanders Public Prosecutor’s Office confirms that an investigation is underway. It was started in March and is still ongoing, the prosecutor’s office said, which could not provide further details.

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