VLAARDINGEN – Part of the Rijnmond region has been hit by possibly the worst air pollution in Dutch history. The fog lingered made it difficult for many people to breathe. Others had watery eyes and were coughing. The pollution was so heavy that schoolchildren were sent home.

All day was a dirty, smelly fog over Rijnmond. The smog was mixed with emissions from businesses in the Botlek and Europoort.

"It's one of the worst situations I have experienced. Such strong smog is so far only occurred abroad ", says the director of the GM Vlaardingen&GD.

Measuring points in the region signaled concentrations above the "health line" of 500 micrograms of sulfur dioxide (SO²) per cubic meter. Normally it is around 100 microgram.

In the control room of the Environment came especially today 440 bubbles inside. Most complaints came from Vlaardingen and Maassluis. During the day were also complaints from Schiedam, Brielle Rozenburg.

* Protest Demonstration of students against pollution, Vlaardingen; protesters with signs. Photographer: Herbert Behrens, National Archives / Anefo. License: Public Domain


Many complaints were from schools in the Rijnmond area. The Casimir school in Vlaardingen were students at the beginning of the afternoon there was something strange going on, says rector P. Vreeken.

"Around noon the teachers came with head- and sore throat from classes; the talk was more and more difficult. Many children came to me with the same complaints. We sent home. At two o'clock there was no longer start. We sent everyone home. "

(P. Vreeken, Casimir school, Vlaardingen, Free People - 13-10-1970)

Some students have sent a telegram on behalf of their school mates to Secretary Kruisinga. It let them know how worried they are about 'the toxic cloud, which seriously hinders our school, so had even stopped the lessons'


The companies were in the Rijnmond area stating that 'alert one' had gone around eleven o'clock. This means that malodorous work must be completed.

A few hours later, for the first time in Dutch history also "alert 2 '. Companies were to switch the urging of low sulfur fuels. But this is not mandatory. Some companies do not even have the option to switch.

After alert 2 the situation had been brought something better, but that can also deal with the changing weather conditions.

* Air pollution in Rijnmond area; chimneys Shell refinery in Pernis. Photographer: Eric Koch, National Archives / Anefo. License: Public Domain

Health Effects

The consequences of this contamination is not yet clear. In Vlaardingen are several people became unwell, but a precise number of missing. The Holy hospital has recorded no casualties.

"But", says Dr.. Wolffs of Vlaardingen GG&GD, "London and Los Angeles, we know that after the stadium of the overstimulation of the mucous stage of the 'excess mortality' is: more deaths than usual. "

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It is not the first time that the Rijnmonders affected by air pollution, but as bad as it once one has experienced before. Several action groups have sent a cry for State Kruisinga.

"The situation is now so serious that we have asked Secretary Kruisinga Rijnmond now trying to explain to all sanitary zone. Officially could be that only when the new law on rehabilitation areas by parliament. "

(Action Leader G. J. Henning, Vrije Volk, 13-10-1970)

Tomorrow has organized a protest march to the city hall of Vlaardingen. Later in the evening is scheduled an emergency session of the council. The responsible alderman is deeply concerned, has announced she.

* Air pollution in Rijnmond area; chimneys Shell refinery in Pernis. Photographer: Eric Koch, National Archives / Anefo. License: Public Domain

remediation Area

The Senate will soon treat covered the Law on Air Pollution. That gives the State the opportunity to designate so-called 'Drainage Areas', to tackle pollution.

The political party KVP asked whether the air pollution law may be treated as soon as possible.

If the Rijnmond is a clean zone is not yet clear what the consequences will be. However, the municipality of Rotterdam seems to be against. The municipality has already done years to designate the Rijnmond as sanitary zone.

This is partly due to the possible establishment of a new factory Hoogovens in the Rotterdam harbor, which is already very controversial now. It is expected that sulfur dioxide emissions will only increase.

Hoe ging het verder?

Perhaps it is good in first place the figures in context. Later it turned out that the average sulfur dioxide concentration in the Rijnmond area such 243 milligrams per cubic meter was. That is still one and a half times higher than normal, but much lower than the "medical frontier 'of 500 microgram. This difference is mainly explained by an average of three hours must be measured.

But if you compare today ...

At the time this article was written, the concentration was right in the Botlek area around the 3 SO² micrograms per cubic meter. This means that 12 oktober 1970 the amount of sulfur dioxide roughly 100 times higher compared to now.

* air Monitoring Network (DCMR). Made on 7 augustus 2017. Measuring point Rotterdam Geulhaven, a measuring point right beside Vlaardingen

The Rijnmond region a day after the serious air pollution was identified as clean zone. State Kruisinga himself came to the "disaster area" to assess the situation and made commitments. which proved to be otherwise not really worth much, because the so-called restoration committee a year later still not formalized.

The arrival of the Hoogovens in the port of Rotterdam is restrained by pressure groups. he will 60.000 signatures handed to the arrival of the factory, which indeed produced much sulfur dioxide. Two years later, the steel crisis broke out.

Even worse

Vlaardingen put air or on the map, but that same year, Eindhoven was hit by a large wave yet to pollution. The east wind air came from the Ruhr on the Brabant city around. Subsequently, concentrations were measured from nearly 750 micrograms per cubic meter.


The free people : democratic-socialist newspaper“. Rotterdam, 13-10-1970, p. 1.

TVNZ“. Rotterdam, 13-10-1970, p. 1.

The Telegraph“. Amsterdam, 13-10-1970, p. 1.

The free people : democratic-socialist newspaper“. Rotterdam, 14-10-1970, p. 1.

Leidsche Courant. Leiden, 14-10-1970, p. 13

Text: Dave Datema

published: 01-10-2017

story number: 67

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