The province of Groningen has called on ESD-SIC, a chemical plant in Farmsum, to completely eliminate emissions of silicon carbide as quickly as possible.
Translation by Traci White
If ESD-SIC fails to stop the emissions, alderperson Nienke Homan said on Wednesday that “formal steps” would be taken, including potential fines.
Synthetic silicon carbide is an abrasive which is used in products such as sand paper and can be carcinogenic in large quantities. The Groninger Internet Courant reports that a recent investigation by TNO, the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research, identified two locations in the vicinity of the plant where silicon carbide fibres were found in a one to one-and-a-half radius.
“Very limited threat”
According to the public health department GGD, the fibres in their current quantities only pose a “very limited” threat to public health. Nevertheless, the province is calling for the plant to reduce emissions to zero as quickly as possible, even though a time frame within which ESD-SIC has to comply.
Alderperson Homan says that further research is being carried out and measuring devices have been installed at various locations. ESD-SIC’s director Richard Middel says the amount of fibres detected was well within the permitted levels and that the annual medical examinations for the 100 plant employees did not find any health risks.
In May, an enormous cloud of smoke called a “blazer” was visible above the ESD-SIC facilities at the Delfzijl Chemical Park. “Blazers” are large clouds of smoke which consist of sand and petroleum cokes (carbon residue) and occur when oven coverings fail to contain them. Over the course of 2018, there were 25 “blazers” of varying sizes, and local residents had expressed frustration and concern about how the company was not doing enough to prevent them.