A popular outdoor swimming spot near Dordrecht has been closed to the public because the water is polluted with cancer-causing chemicals.
The Merwelanden lake is located near chemicals company Chemours which is under fire for dumping waste into the environment. New research by public health organisation RIVM has shown the concentration of PFAS in the water could be dangerous to children.
“We take the health of our residents very seriously,’ Dordrecht health chief Tanja de Jonge told local broadcaster Rijnmond. “It is a real shame that our swimming area cannot be used, but it is the best advice at present.”
Current affairs show Zembla reported at the end of June that the water in ditches and swimming spots as much as 15 kilometres from the plant was polluted with PFAS.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) do not occur in the environment naturally but are found in various products, including non-stick coatings and food packaging materials. PFAS can end up in the air, water and soil.
After the programme was broadcast, the RIVM ran a series of checks and concluded that in 12 of the 13 swimming areas there was no danger to health. The 13th, the Merwelanden, underwent further tests and officials have now recommended its closure.
The local water board is now running further tests to see if the area can be opened to swimmers in future.
The RIVM said in July that the Dutch are ingesting too much PFAS through both food and drinking water, although the total was less than originally thought.
Earlier this week lawyer Bénédicte Ficq said she is planning to take legal action on behalf of 2,000 people against current and former management at Chemours, formerly known as DuPont.
If the public prosecution department agrees to press criminal charges against management for deliberately polluting the surrounding area and risking public health, then they could face prison terms, Ficq told the NRC.
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