Belgium finalizes stricter PFAS regulations, keeping 3M plant partially idle


Belgian authorities have finalized stricter PFAS pollution standards, keeping a 3M plant near Antwerp partially idled.

Regulators cracked down on the “forever chemicals” last fall after testing showed elevated levels of PFAS in local residents’ blood.

The government further tightened the emission standards in a decision released last week.

“For companies like 3M, I expect them to fully invest in limiting the present concentrations of hazardous substances to the strict minimum,” Flemish Environment Minister Zuhal Demir said in a statement to Belgian media. “There will be close monitoring to ensure that these discharge standards are respected and action will be taken in the event of violations.”

3M said it supports the reduced discharge limits but takes issue with restrictions on remediation technology and timeframes, according to a news release.

PFAS — short for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances — are a family of chemicals with nonstick and water-resistant properties used to make a range of products. They do not break down in the environment and have been linked to health problems and groundwater pollution in Washington County and elsewhere.

The plant in Zwijndrecht, Belgium, is one of five PFAS manufacturing sites Maplewood-based 3M has around the world. The others are in Alabama, Illinois, Germany and Cottage Grove.

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Star Tribune, 16-03-22