Asphalt Action Committee challenges Colas’ statement: “We don’t want to shut down the company, but we want to stop the inconvenience and protect our health” (Wijnegem)

The initiators of the stumbling block Asphalt Action Commission: the recently licensed Colas asphalt plant along the Albert Canal, the Wijnegem/Deurne side, but in the Schoten region. © JAA


The new asphalt working committee will appeal to Environment Minister Saturn Demir (N-VA) against the environmental permit granted by Colas’ permanent dispatch. “We don’t want to shut down the company, but we do want to finally stop smell and noise pollution. We think the trial authorization is a good compromise,” said spokesmen Philippe Burt and Heidi Bijtiber.

Jan Uman

The Christmas tree in the home of Philip Burt, in Arthur Verhoevenlan, and Heidi Begtipier, in Henry Dunantlan, was already standing when the permanent representation of road builder Colas was still being granted an environmental permit for an indefinite period. This happened despite 300 objections from citizens and negative advice from the municipality of Wijnegem, where the registered office is located, and Schoten, on the territory of which the production site is located.

“We weren’t expecting that to come,” said Heidi Begtiber, president of the Castledrive Neighborhood Association, which has collected objections. Philip Burt also shakes his head. I’ve lived in this neighborhood for 22 years and since 2004 I’ve been forced to deal with a smell problem. Since Colas acquired an asphalt plant, significantly expanded production, and recently recycled more asphalt, the inconvenience has increased sharply. It seems as if the roofs are burned here almost permanently.”

The Colas asphalt plant was closed when this photo was taken.  No smoke came out of the chimney.

The Colas asphalt plant was closed when this photo was taken. No smoke came out of the chimney. © JAA

The foul odor, often driven by the prevailing southwesterly winds into Schouten, is but one source of concern. Burt testifies, “I could literally hear the factory walking into my bedroom.” “Colas is making efforts to mask the bad smell. On the one hand it’s a good thing of course. But what we’re most concerned about is the harmful substances that Cola releases from a tall chimney. These are bituminous materials like benzene and its derivatives (VOCs and PAH). This may still be in line with legislation Vlarem, but the production is not carried out according to the best available technology. Our health is in needless danger “

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According to Burt, thanks to the new permit, Colas can now produce asphalt at night and on Sundays and public holidays. The company will now also get the green light to operate the concrete plant. Philip Burt and Heidi Bejtiber do not seem to be reassured that the scar has imposed several new terms on the company at the same time.

Until January 21, an appeal against the permit granted can be filed with Environment Minister Zuhal Demir (N-VA). We are now seeking legal advice, but we are determined to do so. In the meantime, like residents of similar asphalt plants in Grimbergen and Heusden-Zolder, among others, we have formed a working committee. The Asphalt Task Force wants to unite everyone involved, just like the rest of us. as well as people from other quarters, from Wijnegem or Deurne.”

Schotenaren Filip Baert and Heidi Bijttebier lead the resistance.

Schotenaren Filip Baert and Heidi Bijttebier lead the resistance. “But we don’t want Kolas to leave. We want her to reduce her inconvenience and eliminate all risks to the health of the local population.” © JAA

independent and apolitical

Philip Burt maintains that the Asphalt Working Committee is independent and apolitical and that closing the plant is not an objective. We want to stop the disturbance. It seems to me a good compromise to urge the Secretary to convert the indefinite permit into a trial permit, as was previously done for the Heusden-Zolder asphalt plant, which is also managed by Colas Inc. It is necessary to better monitor harmful substances. Production time shall be limited to between 7 AM and 7 PM, excluding work on weekends. And a low-noise turbine should be installed on the chimney.” Baert and Bijttebier are also looking at Schoten College for local council members, which they also expect to file an appeal themselves. Environment board member Walter Pratt (N-VA) says a decision has not yet been made.(ja)

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Contact the Colas Task Force at [email protected]

Megan Vasquez

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