Cause of mercury pollution found
The FMM factory in Anderlecht that melts down used batteries was the source of the high mercury concentrations.
The FMM factory in Anderlecht that melts down used batteries was the source of the high mercury concentrations. The Brussels Environment Minister Evelyne Huytebroeck (Francophone green) had the factory shut down last Friday as a precaution.
Since last Thursday, mercury concentrations of up to 9300 milligrams per cubic metre were measured, which poses a threat to public health.
According to Evelyne Huytebroeck the problem did not pose any hazard to the people living near the factory.
Toxicologists however refute this and say that an investigation into the health risks of the high mercury concentrations is necessary before such conclusions can be drawn.
"We must find out how long the factory in question has been burning batteries," says toxicologist Jan Tytgat of Leuven University.
"If we screen the factory workers we can find out a lot. If they do not have high mercury concentrations in their bodies, the people living in the vicinity of the factory probably won't either."
Factory 'known' by the environment police
In the meantime, the environment inspection is investigating the situation.
According to Jean-Pierre Janssens of the environment police they have had problems with the factory before. The factory allegedly expanded its activities recently, but it is not clear whether it has the proper licenses.