It is the first time that OVAM officially reacts on the PFOS pollution case in and around Zwijndrecht, just west of Antwerp across the River Scheldt.
In 2017, OVAM discovered alarmingly high levels of the toxic chemical PFOS in various earth samples in the area as part of preparatory works for the mobility infrastructure project Oosterweel. However, this was never communicated to local residents.
Speaking via her lawyer Patrick Hofströssler, Henny De Baets says she was just following a decision made by (a) minister(s) in the Flemish government. "I followed that decision but it wasn't mine."
It is not clear whose decision it was. Joke Schauvliege was the Flemish Environment Minister at that time. She refused to comment, saying she will speak at the special Parliamentary Commission which will investigate the case and what went wrong.