Work related to the Oosterweel compass can be pursued. This is evidenced by the report of the Committee of Earth Resistance Experts, which conducted an investigation at the request of the Flemish Minister of Mobility Lydia Peters (Open VLD). The Committee prepared a series of recommendations for action.
The Land Resistance Committee, headed by Karl Franken, the contract holder appointed by the Flemish government, was charged with the task of investigating whether the work being carried out on the Oosterweel link on the Left Bank could be carried out properly due to PFOS contamination.
This is because the business will move large amounts of soil in an area contaminated with PFOS as a result of 3M’s activity. It was therefore necessary first to consider how to carry out excavation in a safe manner, without transferring contaminated soil to unpolluted parts and without endangering the health of the local population.
Experts based their research on the “principle of standing still”, in which everything is done so that the situation does not worsen in case of pollution. So there should be no additional risks to the environment and groundwater. The committee focused on three areas: dust, soil, soil transport, and ground and surface waters.
Expert report proves that Lantis actually applies safety principles to earthmoving. But in order to allow the business to continue, experts give some additional recommendations.
Because of the dust, regular measurements of the dust blown in and around the site are needed so that this can be better determined. In addition, the upper layers of the edges near the housing may consist only of clean soil. Measurement campaigns should also be launched, both on site and in the surrounding area, and the local population should be involved. The commission still wanted an interactive communication plan for local residents, including a hotline.
With regard to soil transport, the site should be divided into different areas based on the content of PFOS present. For example, the soil will not be supplemented with soils with higher concentrations of PFOS. In addition, the applied top layers should be removed from the roadsides where soils containing more than 70 μg/kg dry matter (highly contaminated soils) were used.
Monitor water level and quality
Concretely, experts suggest the most contaminated soil concentration, with values over 70 µg/kg dry matter, about to be placed in 3M buildings. The soil must be covered from above and below so that it does not have an effect on the existing soil.
Finally, there are some recommendations regarding groundwater and surface water. For example, the water level and water quality should be closely monitored. In addition, it is necessary not to create new groundwater flows. Franken refers to Palingbeek. This flow should be expanded at 3M, next to the most polluted part of the site. Initially, the plan was to significantly expand it. A large amount of soil will have to be excavated and moved. At the request of experts, this will now be done in a different way. Since these works are only planned for the period from 2023 to 2024, there is time for a recalculation, it seems.
The report of the Land Resistance Commission, which will be ready a day earlier than initially planned, will be published on the website of the Flemish government. On Friday, Franken is expected to participate in the Parliamentary Inquiry Committee, where he will explain the report to members of Parliament. With this transparency, Secretary Peters wants to reassure everyone that “business can be done safely.”