A long lasting ecological disaster : the case of Ecaussinnes

29/03/22

For more than 10 years, Ecaussinnes has been known as the hot spot for nurdles pollution, also called pellets. The source of this pollution is the Feluy industrial area where pellets handling or manufacturing compagnies can be found, such as Total, Katoen Natie, Vos Logistics and Feluy Service Center. It is time to act to put an end to this microplastic pollution.


  

Exasperation and inaction 

According to a report mandated by the European Commission in 2018, 160,000 tons of pellets are spilled into the environment and thus into our Ocean every year in Europe alone. This is not a minor and isolated incident but an ongoing disastrous pollution. It has been an issue for years and the consequences will impact us for the hundreds of years to come. Surfrider Foundation Europe is advocating for a reduction of microplastic pollution at its source, as shown by our actions in Tarragona (Spain) or our 2020 report on five cases of nurdles pollution across Europe. Even though Ecaussinnes is proven to be polluted and that local authorities have urged several times industries to find a solution, nothing has changed

Tuesday, March 29 2022, Surfrider Europe decided to invite Frédérique Ries, Member of the European Parliament, and the representatives of the Federal Minister for the Environment Mrs Khattabi and the Walloon Minister for the Environment Mrs Tellier on the field to face this pollution. This way, they will be able to witness the extent of pellet pollution and acknowledge how the commitments of industries, when they claim to adopt measures to prevent nurdles losses, are only fine words to cover up a Total inaction


“We have to stop this pollution at its source and in a consistent way across Europe.” – Frédérique Ries, Member of the European Parliament, Member of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety


Too often, polluting industries are not convicted enough, nor at all, to the extent of the environmental damage they have caused. 

  


On the field in Ecaussinnes for a real European commitment  

A strong and clear commitment from Belgian authorities and the European Union is needed to implement a real change. Unfortunately, for many years, we have observed that only asking for industries to be vigilant is not enough. The “polluter pays” principle must apply to all the industries responsible for pellet pollution. Severe penalties, to the extent of the damages inflicted to the environment, must apply to these petrochemicals’ giants.  


“We often talk about nurdles, but when we witness the invasion in the lands or riverbed, we truly realize the extent of the situation. Since I became mayor in 2012, I’ve heard of this long-lasting situation. But before we talked less about it. Now it is time to address the problem of industrial pellet pollution.” – Xavier Dupont, Mayor of Ecaussinnes. 


More than often, Surfrider Europe along with NGO coalitions face powerful industrials lobbies when fighting against plastic pollution. The goal of these lobbies is to slow down the processes which would ensure more control and a better management of pellets with binding measures.



The recommendations of Surfrider Europe  

1. Make sure that binding measures are put into place for the manufacturers and distributors to avoid losses across all the value chain from fabrication, transport to transformation. 

2. Organize controls to evaluate industrials on their practices. Reporting to the competent authorities. 

3. These controls must be carried out on a regular basis to ensure their effectiveness  

As in all its campaigns against plastic pollution, Surfrider Europe wants to resolve the problem of pellet pollution at source to prevent its devastating consequences for the Ocean 

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