Photo: Mark Hermans – Media House
It appears that the chemical company 3M, which has been under heavy fire for a few months due to PFOS contamination, is now illegally dumping another toxin into the Scheldt. This is evident from an internal memorandum issued by the Flemish Department of Welfare and Health which VTM Nieuws and Het Laatste Nieuws are able to view.
It has to do with FBSA, a substance that accumulates in the lungs. 3M reported Thursday evening that it is draining its wastewater into nature, but that it has no permit whatsoever.
Since 2002, 3M has ceased production of PFOS, a toxic substance that has been shown to accumulate in the human body and is described as “extremely hazardous”. Since then, 3M has continued to produce other hazardous materials. Prior to that, I received a permit to discharge sewage in Scheldt.
3M has never applied for a permit to the FBSA, even though they do dump illegal wastewater in Scheldt. Since 3M never indicated that it would unload the material, it was not measured by the Flemish government either. So it was able to discharge toxic wastewater undisturbed for years.
According to Het Laatste Nieuws, Antwerp Provincial Deputy Luc Lemmens confirmed that 3M does not have an exit permit. “3M can only offload what is allowed in the offload standards. FBSA is not currently included in the offload standards. Nor was it required by 3M.”
In 2019, 3M had to admit that it illegally dumped FBSA into the Tennessee River at its Decatur manufacturing site in the United States. Then 3M was forced to stop production and pay $35 million to local authorities.
The agency spokesperson said in response to Belga that the conclusion that 3M is illegally disposing of this substance does not come from an internal memo from Care and Health. “Healthcare and Health requested 3M for a list of PFAS compounds that 3M produces or uses in its production processes. This list (from 3M) was included in the presentation given during Zwijndrecht City Council. It is not an internal memo and has not been Zorg makes any statement on the dismissal.”
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