ANPThe public gallery at the hearing this morning
NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 14:10
Hugo van der Parre
Hugo van der Parre
Angry, sad and most of all worried. These are the residents of Dordrecht who spoke today in the hearing of the province of South Holland about chemical company Chemours. They made it clear that they want the pollution from the factory on the Merwede to stop. “Zero from the pipe”, was said repeatedly, with the loud approval of the approximately one hundred audience members in the public gallery. Other speakers called for the plant to be shut down completely.
Chemours has been discredited for years because local residents believe that their health is at serious risk from the emission and discharge of hazardous substances and that this has been kept secret for years. This was shown in a Zembla broadcast in June.
The residents are concerned about their health and that of their children and grandchildren. Several speakers said that they are quite ill. Whether this is directly due to Chemours emissions cannot be proven, but Joop Keesmaat of the Health for Everything action group pointed out that cancer mortality in Dordrecht is 16 percent higher than the average in the Netherlands.
Mothers fear that they have passed PFAs on to their children by breastfeeding. Eating vegetables from the garden is not recommended, some residents no longer dare to drink water from the tap. Swimming in recreational lake Merwelanden is no longer possible.
ANPThe Chemours branch in Dordrecht
Local residents are also angry because Chemours has been emitting and releasing PFOA, GenX and other harmful substances for years, knowing that it was harmful to people and the environment. The anger also extends to the government: several local residents wondered how it is possible that Chemours still has a permit for the emission of hazardous substances. Resident Kees van der Hel: “If I spill a liter of petrol in the port, I will immediately be fined. Why is Chemours allowed to do its own thing?”.
Alderman Tanja de Jonge van Dordrecht was also critical: “There is one party that is always silent, that is Chemours”. And directly to the company: “I call on Chemours to take its responsibility by contributing to solutions. Stop all emissions of harmful substances and take your responsibility. We count on you to show real social action”.
She also called on the province and possibly the state to set up a fund from which all costs arising from the situation can be paid.
Chemours, who spoke at the end of the hearing, says it is concerned about the concerns of local residents, but thinks they are mainly due to “suggestive reporting based on old information” in the media.
Board member Marc Reijmers emphasized that the reduction of pfas substances has been significant in recent years. For example, GenX emissions would have been reduced by 99 percent. “I do not recognize myself in the image that has now emerged in the outside world of our company.”
His statement “It’s in our DNA to be a good neighbour” led to laughter in the public gallery.