The provinces of South Holland and North Holland will argue for stricter legislation and regulations regarding the emission of PFAS substances during a round table discussion in the House of Representatives on Thursday. Deputies from both provinces will participate in a discussion with MPs about the report that the Dutch Safety Board presented this spring. The council concluded after research at steel producer Tata Steel in IJmuiden, chemical company Chemours from Dordrecht and the Nijmegen asphalt manufacturer APN that large industrial companies and the government are failing to protect local residents.
The provinces and the environmental services involved – responsible for licensing, supervision and enforcement – would like to be able to impose stricter requirements to better protect local residents against harmful emissions from industry. However, they are reaching the limits of current legislation and regulations. They want to convey this message to MPs, including the call to include the precautionary principle in the rules. This means that substances may only be used if it has been proven that they have no harmful effect on the health of people and animals and on the environment.
Last week, the South Holland provincial government received sharp questions and criticism from the States about the permit for Chemours and the supervision at the factory, which could discharge large quantities of harmful substances into the environment for years. Deputy Frederik Zevenbergen’s frustration was clearly audible in his answers.
“If you only knew how much effort we had to go to to arrive at a standard for PFAS in bathing water, that is terrible,” Zevenbergen said. “I honestly hope and expect that there are now enough signals to finally get rid of this nonsense, to put it unparliamentarily. We have been knocking on the door of the ministry for years: give us a standard. For years we have said: shouldn’t we even do something with PFAS? The answer: yes, yes, yes, sorry, difficult. Fortunately, that is now going to happen due to the Zembla broadcast and all the attention surrounding it.”
South Holland already imposed stricter requirements for Chemours in an interim adjustment to the permit, but was then rejected by the judge. According to Zevenbergen, it is typical of the split in which the provinces find themselves: they would like to be stricter, but the law prevents that. “I don’t know how we could go any further than too far.”