On Friday everybody living in the hamlets of Zevekote and Sint-Pieters-Kapelle (Middelkerke) was evacuated. Inhabitans of Sint-Pieters-Kapelle have meanwhile received permission to return home, while Zevekote residents had to wait until the afternoon until the tank had been completely emptied.
Governor Carl Decaluwé: "The minute the tank is completely empty we will carry out measurements. Then we will bring local people together in the Gistel community centre."
People had to leave their homes very suddenly on Friday.
A young mother told VRT News: "We had to leave immediately. No procrastination was allowed. Everything went into the car and we left. I was just able to prepare a bottle for baby and collect some nappies (diapers)."
When people will be able to return home they will be instructed to ventilate their homes thoroughly.
The tank started leaking around 5:30PM. A considerable amount of nitric acid escaped. The 26,000 litre tank was over half full at the time.
This morning the tank from which nitric acid is still leaking is being emptied. The little gas that is still leaking is not toxic. Technical experts are at the scene to establish how they can sort out the matter of the leaking tank for good. Measurements are being taken by the food safety agency and the environment agency. Ramifications of the leak for plants and crops are also being examined. The consumption of animal and vegetable products from this area is not recommended at the minute. Well water too is subject of a warning.