The recycled soil at Maxima Bridge in Alven aan den Rijn causes environmental pollution. He was also the cause of the death of two horses, riding school owner Melanie and her father, Niko Wonder. They are courting the city.
The dark, black sand lay in great heaps diagonally behind the stables of the Melanie Riding School. That piece of land, which she now owns, houses storage for recycled soil that was used around the Queen Máxima Bridge in Alven aan den Rijn.
It was only last year, after seven years of construction, that Melanie and her father, Niko, discovered that black sand was polluting the soil and groundwater. This relates to the so-called thermally clean soils (TGG). This is soil that is heated to high temperatures by specialized waste processors to break down existing contamination and can then be reused. Sustainable, that’s the idea.
Sick after drinking from a ditch
Last year it was announced that recycled soil causes environmental pollution in various places in the Netherlands. Harmful substances also seep into the soil and groundwater in Alven aan den Rijn. Antimony, selenium, fluoride, barium, and benzene are present in very high levels. Melanie and Nico were unaware of these substances. Shortly after the bridge was built, in 2016, two horses fell ill after drinking from a nearby moat.
Almost black in colour
“The water was dark brown, almost black,” says Melanie. “We called the Water Board, and they were taking water samples. But they only assessed it visually and didn’t tie it to the ground. The vet said it could no longer be proven that water was the cause.”
Wii is hardly usable
Whey is now hardly usable as whey. Tufts of grass grow and the earth is firm. “We tried working the soil with the farmer,” Niko says. “But there was no way.”
In 2020, years later, the entrance to the trench becomes blocked. Fresh water is no longer supplied by the Rhine. This coincides with the sudden death of two other horses and a dog. “The horses were healthy,” says Melanie. “That was a huge shock to us, it came out of nowhere. One horse was just involved.”
Melanie and her father refuse to investigate the cause of death. At that time they had no suspicion of environmental pollution. The pieces of the puzzle only fall into place when, in early 2021, they read in the newspaper that thermally clean soil has been used around the Maxima Bridge, and that the municipality is conducting an environmental impact investigation.
This research confirms their suspicions: soil and water are polluted, although, according to the researchers from the Tau agency who participated, there are no unacceptable risks to humans, plants and animals. Their horse pastures also appear to be polluted. “In particular, the purchase contract states that there is no question of soil contamination,” says Nico. “So it didn’t materialize.”
treatment and compensation
The Van Remundt family went to court and demanded that the horses’ pasture be cleaned up and that all costs be reimbursed. A lawyer also filed an executive application on behalf of the family to force the municipality to act against itself. But the council recently rejected the request.
Alderman Relus Breeuwsma says he will follow the advice of his Environmental Service. Although it has been proven that TGG does not belong to horse pasture, but since a covering layer has been applied and there are no pressing risks, treatment is not necessary. He really wants to monitor pollution and the potential for increased filtration and the spread of harmful substances.
More TWA than reported
It is clear from the documents that the Van Remundt family requested from the municipality that the municipality does not know exactly where to apply the TGG. It appears that the drawings that should show this were not provided by the contractor. Emails show that 20,000 cubic meters more TGG was applied than reported by the contractor, even where this was not the intention.
According to soil expert Jeroen Oosterwegel of GeoFoxx, who works on behalf of Van Remundt, someone made good money on it. There is also a trade behind it. If you had to use building sand, I estimate it would have cost you another 3 to 4 tons.”
The municipality is still investigating whether the damage can be compensated by the contractor. Meanwhile, Van Raymondt suffered a heavy loss. “If you look at the damage to the image and the costs of the investigations, lawyer and treatment, it quickly reaches a million euros.”