Photo: MARC HERREMANS – MEDIA HOUSE
3M, the American chemical company that is considered responsible for the PFOS pollution in Zwijndrecht and the surrounding area, has received more than 5 million euros in subsidies from the Flemish government in recent years. This is apparent from data that Groen MP Mieke Schauvliege has requested. She urges the Minister of Economy Hilde Crevits (CD&V) to reclaim the subsidies.
According to Schauvliege, 3M has received 5.13 million euros in support from the various economy ministers since 2013. “Of this, 2 million came from the Flemish Climate Fund, in addition to money from other pots,” says the Groen MP.
“This has to stop”
In addition to this Flemish support, according to Schauvliege, 3M could also count on federal support, in particular a tax reduction for research and development. A condition for this support is a certificate from the Environment Department “proving that the new products and technologies have no negative effect on the environment or are intended to limit this as much as possible”. “It’s all horrifying when you know that this company pays a penny for the cleaning of the ground that it polluted itself,” says Schauvliege.
According to Schauvliege, it is “vengeful” that a company like 3M, which has a turnover of 300 million euros and a profit of 17 million euros, “passes the subsidy pot”. “The fact that large polluters can so easily get taxpayers’ money must urgently stop,” says the Groen politician.
She wants to question Flemish Minister of Economy Hilde Crevits about the Flemish support to 3M. “When Flemish ministers open the money tap wide for major polluters such as 3M, one wonders whether the Flemish government knows what it is doing”, says Schauvliege. Groen wants the Flemish government to claim the money back and that they “do not a few euros more to companies that violate environmental rules”.