On a business park in Doetinchem there are about 1300 barrels of old extinguishing foam, from which PFAS has been leaking for a long time. The land around it is contaminated and local residents suffer from it, but nobody wants to pay the cost of cleaning up the stuff.
TV program De Monitor and research platform Follow the Money recently conducted research on how PFAS substances could end up in the environment in Doetinchem in recent years.
The case has been in place since 2010, when the municipality authorised a company to put about ten drums of fire-fighting foam on the site that is now polluted. The company wanted to make fertilizer from the residual material. Just not ten barrels were put down, but about 1300.
The quantity was not maintained for a long time, among other things because, according to the municipality, it was not known that there was PFAS in the buses. By the way, PFAS was not seen as a dangerous substance at the time, says a municipal spokesman. Also, for a few years the supervision did not lie with the municipality, but with the province.
The Monitor and Follow the Money write that the lack of independent environmental monitoring has led to environmental pollution. “The administrative enforcement is faltering, says prosecutor Ingeborg Koopmans. “We regularly experience that there is not or insufficient enforcement, which sometimes causes situations to become larger than they could or should have been.”
Meanwhile, the company has been bankrupt and the barrels have started leaking, it turned out in April last year. But the owner does not seem to feel responsible for the environmental damage caused by the substances in the vessels. And now it has been unclear for a long time who needs to clean up and clean up the ground.
Karen Kamps, Group Chairman GroenLinks Doetinchem: “This is really a major environmental scandal. It is striking that it has not been maintained for nine years. I cant find an explanation for that.”
Apples full of PFAS
Some local residents are worried. This also applies to Roelof de Wit and his family, he says to Omroep Gelderland/Regio8. The family has an apple tree in the garden and research has shown that the apples in the tree are full of PFAS. “Two years ago, we made applesauce for the last time. This could mean that we received PFAS in small quantities.”
The research on the apples was done by the Vrije Universiteit van Amsterdam, commissioned by De Monitor and Follow the Money. It emerged that in the apples of the family, forty times as much PFAS is measured as in a normal apple. Yet someone who eats such an apple does not get too much PFAS, says Professor Jacob de Boer. “If you eat one apple a day, youre still well below the norm, so thats nice.”
Pumping out barrels to stop leakage
A spokesman for the municipality says that if there were dangerously high concentrations of PFAS in the ground, there would be immediate intervention. In any case, the municipality will have the barrels pumped out in the coming period. “So that the leakage stops,” says the spokesman. After that, we look at how bad the contamination is and what everything costs. Presumably, the amount will reach around EUR 1 million. The municipality hopes to come out with the people involved.
The broadcast of The Monitor over the leaking barrels will be on NPO2 tonight at 10:15 p.m.