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The Chemours shipped heavily polluted sewage from Tartrecht to the United States: 13,000 kilometers back and forth.

The Chemours shipped heavily polluted sewage from Tartrecht to the United States: 13,000 kilometers back and forth.

This seemed to be the solution for the Chemours chemical factory in Dordrecht. Over the years it sent heavily polluted sewage and sludge to Italy and Belgium. The material was recovered in Italy and then shipped back to Dordrecht, and the waste was incinerated in Antwerp. But a recycling plant in Italy went bankrupt and the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT) canceled the Belgian route in October last year over pollution concerns. Last summer, a new solution was found: parent company DuPont’s factory near Fayetteville, North Carolina. The water, first polluted and then purified, travels more than 13,000 kilometers back and forth between the Netherlands and the United States. While the US Environmental Protection Agency EPA agreed to import, the ILT issued an export permit.

American Human Rights

But the ships no longer sail. In early November, the EPA asked Dutch to stop transporting the wastewater after the state of North Carolina protested. Additionally, earlier this week, a United Nations panel is investigating whether the Dutch government has violated the human rights of Americans by allowing waste exports.

The water is currently stored in Dordrecht. And this causes dissatisfaction and concerns in the province of South Holland, which is responsible for the company’s environmental permits. Members of Parliament asked questions about water this week. They want to know, among other things, how much wastewater is involved and how much space the company needs to save.

The wastewater contains a substance called GenX, a type of PFAS that is used to produce Teflon, among other things. According to the permits issued, Chemours will be allowed to ship 2,000 tons of water containing GenX from the Netherlands to the United States. The Fayetteville area seemed heavily contaminated with GenX in recent years. The health risks of GenX are not yet known. The environmental agency EPA is particularly concerned about liver damage.

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The review shows the changed status of the company. Activities that it has been able to carry out for years without much social and political pressure are now under the magnifying glass or at a standstill.

Illegal evictions

For example, last weekend, the Hollands Delta Water Board filed a complaint against Chemours because the short-lived PFAS substance trifluoroacetate (TFA) was found in sewage water. The company doesn’t have a permit to discharge the material, but the water board suspects Chemours did so anyway. He denies it. The water board cannot treat the material.

South Holland had already fined Chemours 125,000 euros at the end of August for TFA illegal discharges. Chemours has asked the judge to suspend the sentence. The first hearing is on December 19.

The water board’s announcement is in addition to a mass claim filed earlier this year by more than three thousand local residents led by lawyer Bénédicte Ficq. They believe the company knowingly polluted the environment. In another proceeding initiated by three surrounding municipalities, a judge ruled Chemours liable for damage caused by the company’s PFAS discharge between 1984 and 1998. Eggs and swimming pools in the area have been contaminated with PFAS this year. South Holland is now investigating whether and how to close the factory permanently.

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Eggs from recreational chickens near the Chemours chemical plant contain dangerous levels of PFAS

Bolderhove Zoo in Sliedrecht.