DORDRECHT - Part of the De Staart district in Dordrecht is built on toxic waste. This is shown by research by TNO. It concerns two hundred houses in the Merwepolder, the eastern part of the district. Substances such as benzoic acid and phenol have been found in the soil under the houses. Groundwater and drinking water are now being monitored.

Tonight there was a meeting of the newly established action committee of residents in De Staart. Almost 300 residents of the neighborhood had come to the meeting.

Vomiting and falling trees

The case started after three houses had collapsed. A stench was detected during an inspection of the foundation. Residents had also complained about this before, but that was then dismissed as problems with the gas pipes.

Numerous stories also surfaced at the meeting that could point to toxic soil. For example, children would have inexplicable vomiting tendencies. Piles would have been damaged and several trees on the Dieze have fallen.

“One resident after another grabbed the microphone during the establishment of the Polluted Merwedepolder Action Committee. … One of the worried neighborhood residents was most likely speaking on behalf of many others when he said: "Buy your art my house."

(Het Vrije Volk, 18-09-1981)

Many people no longer trust the drinking water that comes out of the tap. According to Alderman De Kovel of Environmental Affairs, there should be more clarity in a few days. The test drilling will be done on Monday and the first results should be known a day later.

Street names changed after poison finds in the De Staart district in Dordrecht. Thus, "t Gist was turned into Poison. Foto: National Archives / Anefo, Rob Bogaert

Known

The municipality of Dordrecht was aware that poison had been deposited in the area, reports the Algemeen Dagblad. Eleven years ago, the municipality gave permission for the dumping of two thousand tons of chemical waste from the port of Rotterdam. The company that deposited it there is the Chemical Industry Rijnmond (CIR), a subsidiary of DSM. A short time later the landfill was closed.

According to CIR, the waste is in hardened tar. “They are not substances you have to eat, but there are few risks ”, declares the company in the AD. The waste would have been taken to Dordrecht, because there were problems with CIR's waste incinerator.

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Poisonous neighborhoods

De Staart in Dordrecht is not the first neighborhood to be labeled "poisonous district."’ gets. Last year, that honor was for Lekkerkerk-West, where chemical waste was found under new-build homes.

A few weeks later it was also announced that there were tens of thousands of barrels of chemical waste under the Vogelmeerpolder, north of Amsterdam.

The district in Lekkerkerk has been demolished and people are getting a new home. It is not yet known whether this will also happen in Dordrecht.


Hoe ging het verder?

About a hundred houses in the Merwedepolder were demolished soon after the discovery of the poison dump. Four years after the discovery, all houses were gone.

Most of the poison was excavated. Some years later, it also became the power plant, several hundred meters away, demolished. That plant had four large chimneys, that formed a prominent part of Dordrecht, but also caused a lot of pollution.

Demolition of the houses on poisonous soil on the Staart. Foto: Regional Archives, ad Molendijk

Two years after the discovery of the poison in Dordrecht, the city had the dubious honor of being in the top three times 30 of the Poison Atlas of the Netherlands. The editors of Vrij Nederland had drawn up the list. The Merwedepolder was in place 9, the Luyk chemical factory by number 10 and the Bleijenhoek district by number 12. Eleven more places in the city are labeled "suspicious".

In the years that followed, Dordrecht put a lot of effort into remediating many of those places.

Residents Gifwijk “The tail” in Dordrecht bring giro cards and levies back to Zuiveringsschap in Dordrecht. Foto: National Archives / Anefo, Marcel Antonisse

After Dordrecht and Lekkerkerk, numerous poison scandals followed that sound familiar to many people: by Coupépolder (Alphen aan den Rijn), Gfitpark, Zellingwijk.

Sources:

Algemeen Dagblad – 19-09-1981 – Dordt knew about poison

Het Vrije Volk – 18-09-1981 – People from Dordrecht worried about vomiting children

Dutch Newspaper – 17-09-1981 – Dordrecht residential area built on poison

De Volkskrant – 16-09-1981 – Poison found under residential area

Algemeen Dagblad – 18-09-1981 – Residents of the Poisonous District of Dordrecht establish an association

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