Row over drugs waste clean-up bill continues as pollution spreads

An unresolved row over who will foot the bill for the clean-up of a huge amount of drugs waste dumped in a nature reserve in Halsteren in Brabant is putting the area at further risk of contamination, Dutch media report.

The waste came from a drugs lab near Bergen op Zoom which routinely dumped chemicals used to process cocaine in a nearby wood, resulting in at least forty containers full of contaminated soil.

‘Speed is of the essence with big waste deposits like this,’ soil expert Theo Edelman told Trouw. ‘Every time it rains the pollution spreads via the ground water… It has to be removed before it does even more damage.’

A deadline of February 15 set by the regional environmental service has now come and gone.

The clean-up is a complex and costly one because the contamination is up to six metres deep and in an area difficult to access with heavy machinery.

Land owner Brabants Landschap has said it is unreasonable to expect them to pay for the clean-up, thought to be running into tens of thousands of euros. It wants a bigger contribution from the government and the provincial authorities.

The reserve owners also said the man who rented the shed to the drugs gang, some of whom have since been arrested and are awaiting trial, is ultimately responsible.

Noord Brabant is a centre for synthetic drugs production, the AD reported in 2020. In 2019 some 25 drugs labs, 38 storage locations and chemical dump sites were located within the province.

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