Chemical factory Chemours in Dordrecht introduces new tech to combat air pollution

DORDRECHT - The much-discussed chemical factory Chemours in Dordrecht can now be shut down more quickly in the event of a malfunction to prevent harmful substances from being released into the air. By installing new technology that temporarily stores gases released during the production process in a buffer tank, the company's management said emissions will be further reduced. Since 2018, Chemours has invested about 75 million dollars (almost 69 million euros) in this. 

The American chemical company, which has been based in Dordrecht since 1959, was in the news a lot this year. The TV program Zembla reported last summer that the factory had been emitting large quantities of harmful substances for years, while the company management was aware of the dangers to public health and the environmental damage this caused. This led to hearings in the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of the Dutch parliament, and in the province of Zuid-Holland. Thousands of nearby residents filed complaints. 

The Rotterdam court holds Chemours and its predecessor DuPont responsible for the PFAS damage caused between 1984 and 1998. This is stated in a preliminary judgment of the case brought by four surrounding municipalities. 

Following that decision at the end of September, Chemours promised to "take concrete action as quickly as possible" to address the PFAS damage. The company also reiterated its commitment to producing "as responsibly as possible.” 

One of the measures to ensure this is the storage of harmful substances in the event of a malfunction or if the incinerator fails. "Production is then either shut down or reduced to a minimum. Thanks to the new measures, this can now be done more quickly, and the (residual) gases still in the system are stored and later destroyed," said a spokesperson, noting that the incinerator is in use 98 percent of the time. 

Over the next few years, the company plans to spend up to an additional 50 million to further reduce emissions through the air. Chemours reported that since 2017, it has reduced the emission of so-called fluorinated greenhouse gases (organic compounds with fluorine) by 80 percent. The goal is to reduce this by at least 99 percent by 2030. By 2050, Chemours aims to stop emitting industrial greenhouse gases altogether. 

"We are aware of the concerns of local residents about emissions, so we are responding to the request to minimize emissions and continue to work hard on measures to achieve this goal," said director An Lemaire. 

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