The chemicals sector must drastically reduce the amount of chemicals it releases into the air and waterways, according to Zuid-Holland provincial council which includes Rotterdam port in its remit.
‘No discharge should become the norm,’ executive board member Rik Janssen told the Algemeen Dagblad in an interview published on Tuesday.
The authority is concerned about the many new substances used by the region’s chemicals industry which are then discharged into waterways or the air without any clear picture of the effect on people and the environment.
‘There have been many very good techniques developed recently which eliminate the need to discharge substances into the air or water,’ Janssen said.
‘It is high time the chemicals industry does an about turn as should we as regional government as well. We are no longer going to ask how much are you going to discharge. Instead we will ask is that discharge really necessary? The change will not happen overnight, but that is the direction we will have to take,’ Janssen said.
‘It is going to cost industry money, but we will no longer put up with companies which are out to maximise their profits and not consider the environment. There is no room for companies like that which are parasites on society.’
Janssen cited chemicals company Chemours of Dordrecht as an example. On Thursday, Chemours, which is a 2015 spin-off of US chemicals behemoth Dupont, will face off with the province in court.
The province is seeking to curtail the discharge of GenX, used in the making of Teflon, by Chemours. The provincial authority argues that GenX harms the environment and has seeped into the drinking water of millions of Dutch residents.
For its part, the chemicals industry lobby group VNCI terms Janssen’s stance ‘utopian thinking’.
‘If no discharge becomes the norm in the Netherlands, the growth of the entire industry will come to a halt,’ said VNCI spokesman Roderik Potjer. ‘After all, discharge is permitted in other countries.’
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