Mayor André Van De Vijver (Greens) von Zwijndrecht pleaded not guilty to the PFAS committee despite having known about the pollution since 2000.
It was not until April 2021 that Steven Vervaet (Greens), City Councilor for the Environment in Zwijndrecht, realized that the residents of his community are at risk from PFAS pollution. He stated this in the commission of inquiry that began with the political witnesses on Monday.
Vervaet’s testimony met with disbelief from MP Koen Daniëls (N-VA), who cited a series of events based on which “the community should have known better”. “We didn’t know anything until the environmentalist (Thomas Göorden, red.) contacted us ”, he described the ships. “The documents show other things.” For example, in 2006 there was a soil remediation process and various environmental councils from which the contamination by the forever chemicals pale. There was Wendy D’Hollander’s doctoral thesis at the University of Antwerp, which supposedly wrote to inform the community about the extremely high levels of PFAS in chicken eggs near 3M. The city council says she has lost all trace of her correspondence. And then there was a site visit to the community in Oosterweel to find out about PFAS.
Bart De Wever, Mayor of Antwerp (N-VA), commented on this “evidence” in June The seventh day that they “crush”. He repeats that statement today. “The timing of the files speaks volumes,” says De Wever, who is expected on Friday in the committee of inquiry.
It was a “diversionary maneuver” from personal responsibility, said Groen, after there was no public communication in 2017 about the dangers of the substance. Van De Vijver, the only mayor who supplies green plants in Flanders, referred to the progressive knowledge that the health risk had to demonstrate: “There is a difference between not being aware of the danger to public health and being aware of it . ” the pollution at the 3M site, ”he says.
Waste company Ovam denied a public health hazard.