PFAS contamination at the fire station and behind the container park: Schoten announces precautionary measures for local residents (Schoten)

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Around the fire station and on the site of the company AVR-Van Gansewinkel, which has since moved, behind the container garden, OVAM has established increasing values ​​for PFAS in soil and groundwater. The municipality talks about the limited pollution, but is ordering an investigation to map everything and remediate it when necessary. Meanwhile, about 75 families were advised not to eat eggs from their own chickens or home-grown fruits and vegetables.

Jan Uman

In response to serious contamination of PFAS compounds from the 3M plant in Zwijndrecht, the Flemish government has investigated sites with potential PFAS contamination across the country. This pertains to areas where fluorine-containing extinguishing foam has been used, such as fire brigade training areas or sites where a fire has been extinguished with this type of foam and companies where PFAS is likely to be used in production operations.

In the municipality of Schöten, this relates to the fire station at Theofiel Van Cauwenberghslei / Kruispadstraat and the site of the AVR-Van Gansewinkel (Sluizenstraat). In September last year, samples were taken and examined. Findings that just arrived at Schouten indicate contamination with PFAS, the collective name for more than six thousand chemicals with which fluorine has been treated. The infamous PFOS is just one of those substances.

“This is not a big surprise. In the past, firefighting exercises were conducted at both locations by our fire brigade. Although the use of fluorine-containing firefighting foam was already discontinued in 1996,” said Acting Mayor Evke Hendricks (N-VA).

The mayor says panic is unnecessary and the pollution is not that bad compared to sites elsewhere in Flanders. “This is not Zwijndrecht. PFAS was not produced here either,” it seems. But the municipality wants it to be open to Schotten residents who live in a radius of one hundred and five hundred meters, respectively, around the two sites.

AVR-Van Gansewinkel’s site, abandoned for years, is behind the container park on Sluizenstraat. Groundwater may be polluted here, but hardly anyone lives in the immediate vicinity. © RR

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Around the abandoned industrial site behind the container park at Sluizenstraat, where perhaps only ground water was affected, the population was very few. Even the mentally disabled facility De Vier Notelaars, the Politiehond Schoten dog school and VELT Gardens are outside the high-volume danger zone, said environmental official Dirk Virkmen. “We suspect that the contamination is in the soil around the fire station. The barracks are located in the middle. Here there are a maximum of 75 homes within the perimeter where we have announced a number of precautions.”

Verkammen points to the letter the municipality delivered to local residents on Monday. Announces further research to be able to estimate exact hazards and conduct potential local soil remediation. Nobody in town hall assumes that there has been a very serious contamination that has led to the confiscation of property. A number of so-called “no regrets” measures are being taken.

Zone 100 (dark red) and 500 meters (light red) around the fire station, respectively, where the municipality announced a number of precautionary measures pending further investigation.

Zone 100 (dark red) and 500 meters (light red) around the fire station, respectively, where the municipality announced a number of precautionary measures pending further investigation. © Schöttingen Municipality

All residents living within a radius of up to 100 meters from the surveyed sites are advised not to eat locally grown vegetables or fruits, pending further investigation, not to eat eggs from their poultry, not to use their own manure as fertilizer in garden use as well as to leave water Subterranean without disturbing and definitely not drinking. Regular hand washing is recommended. For those who live a little further – up to five hundred meters – it is enough to refrain from groundwater for consumption. Washing the car with groundwater is harmless.

Information meeting

Citizens under no circumstances will have to ensure repair on their premises, if repair has to be carried out at all. The Municipal Council is organizing a digital information meeting on Thursday 10 March at 7 pm to answer any questions from local residents. The Environment Agency said that after distributing the letter with the situation and recommended precautions, there are no signs of concern among the public. One phone call would have come from a local resident. yes

More information via the Schotten Environment Service, 03-685.04.62, milieudienst@schoten.be

The site contaminated with PFAS at the AVR-Van Gansewinkel business site is behind the container park and its perimeter for precautions to be taken of 100 and 500 metres, respectively.  Accommodation is very small.

The site contaminated with PFAS at the AVR-Van Gansewinkel business site is behind the container park and its perimeter for precautions to be taken of 100 and 500 metres, respectively. Accommodation is very small. © RR

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