ZWIJNDRECHT / DORDRECHT – The abrupt closure of 3M's PFAS production line and the temporary shutdown of Chemours follow the groundbreaking investigation by Apache and Follow the Money supported by Journalismfund Europe.

The team of journalists had a thorough look at the emissions of the (petro)chemical industries in the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp and confirmed the presence of ultra-short PFAS in wastewater. These revelations, published in a number of articles, between June 2023 and January 2024, exposing alarming concentrations of these hazardous substances, not only triggered immediate actions but also cast a shadow over other companies in Antwerp's harbor, notably waste processor Indaver.

Following this, the American chemical company 3M announced it would “accelerate the closure” of the PFAS-related production processes at the Zwijndrecht site. The news came via a letter received by Zuhal Demir, the Belgian Minister of the Environment.

In a parallel narrative, Chemours in Dordrecht found itself entangled in a web of illegal ultra-short PFAS discharges. The Dutch government, in stark contrast to Flanders, took decisive action, imposing hefty fines on Chemours. The fallout was swift—Chemours faced a temporary closure, with uncertainties surrounding its future due to the formidable challenge of filtering ultra-short PFAS from discharge water using existing technologies. 

These examples serve as a compelling story of government intervention, prompted only when the mounting pressure from successive investigations became irresistible.

Photo credit: Simon Clément (Apache)

American Multinational Closing PFAS lines in Belgium