“The multinational 3M faces one of the highest fines ever in Flanders.” So says environmental lawyer Isabel Larmusso at VTM Nieuws. The US energy giant is linked to the heavy PFOS contamination in Zwegendrecht, which came to light during works on the Oosterweel connection. Today it was announced that the company concluded a “settlement”, in which it paid barely 75 thousand euros.
A settlement is an agreement in which two parties make concessions in order to reach an agreement. In this case, Antwerp management company Lantis and 3M promised not to litigate anymore about PFOS contamination. Otherwise the construction of the Oosterweel will be delayed even more. So Lantis invested 63 million euros in taxpayer money to tackle the problem, and 3M paid out 75,000 euros.
“This is actually the most natural thing in the world,” says environmental lawyer Isabel Larmusso. With such a huge infrastructure project, not all possible legal actions can be taken. You have to consult with sectors and work in a solution-oriented manner.”
Remarkably, the multinational 3M “only” had to pay €75,000. “This is really unusual, but I also understand Lantis. They had to get the Oosterweel Connection project done as soon as possible, and they had to show the flexibility to do that.”
However, this does not affect the soil decree: 3M will have to pay for the treatment of PFOS contamination. “I hope the prosecution will take it seriously,” Larmusso says. The company faces very high processing costs and a large fine. Probably the highest ever in Flanders. Even if there are only “peanuts” compared to the total cost.
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