Antwerp’s two opposition parties, Groen and PVDA, were not convinced by Mayor Bart De Wever (N-VA)’s statements in Antwerp newspaper on PFOS contamination. They will face him in the extra city council on Monday. “Saying that you really intend to communicate is not enough,” says Peter Mertens, leader of the PvdA party.
When a leaked email last week from Lantis, the developer of Oosterweel Connect, showed that Antwerp city council was already aware of the Zwijndrecht pollution in 2017, the opposition held in Antwerp an additional city council. It will meet digitally on Monday evening at 9 p.m. PFOS contamination is on the agenda.
Opposition parties expect answers from the city council to a series of questions. What is the timeline of information and research results received by the city government about pollution? When and what actions were taken? What connections were there to the residents? How is the city council assessing the situation now? What investigations, communication and measures is the Antwerp City Council planning?
De Wever has already answered a few questions in an interview. He asserts that in 2017, the political steering committee discussed Lantes. “I can tell you: In September 2017, I fervently advocated for pollution at the Oosterweel site to be revealed to the world,” de Wever says. But they chose not to. What argument would you have as mayor if the relevant environmental authority said: It is not necessary? “
De Wever says it’s in place in that file. I can answer what you asked as mayor. They can ask me anything. I whistle for the investigation committee.”
Antwerp PVDA leader Peter Mertens, who asked for additional city council, was unimpressed by de Wever’s response.
“It’s not enough to say you intend to reach out,” Mertens says. “We just had to communicate. If you already knew in 2012 and 2016 that tainted eggs are harmful, why wasn’t more research done? Proactive policy is not only about communication, it is also investigating more. Failure to do so is just negligence.” Guilty. I learned from the interview that informing the population is apparently optional in a democracy. It does not prevent the mayor from expressing his opinion on everything that happens in the world, but when there is heavy pollution in his city, he remains silent.”
Green Party leader Imad al-Nuri still has many questions. According to him, it remains unclear whether De Wever is now putting Oosterweel’s contact or public health first. Al-Anuri was also disturbed by the absence of the mayor from this file.
“Like many Antwerp residents, I want to be reassured on this profile,” Anuri says. But the mayor is completely absent from this file. why? The information is in great demand, but De Wever is about it with reference to the waste company OVAM. You won’t tell me the mayor allows this service to control himself. Telling citizens that there is pollution is not a message you can record, so keep quiet.”