Movement seeks to stop #Fracking4Plastics Antwerp expansion
Brussels – A new expansion plan championed by petrochemical company Ineos, which would further deepen the environmentally disastrous connection between the plastics industry and the US fracking boom, is drawing international opposition.
In 2016, Ineos, the largest ethylene producer in Europe, began importing fracked US ethane to Europe to turn it into plastics at its facilities in the UK and Norway. The company wants now to invest €3bn to build a new ethane ‘cracker’ and a propylene producing propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plant in the Port of Antwerp. The company has started the first of three intended Environmental Impact Assessment procedures for the project, which would deforest an area of 50-55 hectares.
The Port of Antwerp in Flanders, Belgium is home to the largest petrochemical cluster in Europe, and is now the second largest in the world after Houston, Texas. Satellite data showed last year that Belgium, and especially Antwerp, has some of the most polluted air in the world.
The plan of Ineos has spurred international opposition from 20 groups, NGOs and associations, who have jointly submitted an objection to the Port of Antwerp. Signatories from both sides of the Atlantic include Food & Water Europe, Food & Water Watch, #BreakFreeFromPlastic, Talk Fracking, CIEL (Center for International Environmental Law), WECF (Women Engage for a Common Future), Recycling Netwerk, Frack Free United, Greenpeace UK and Environmental Investigation Agency. This joint international objection comes on top of the ones submitted by Belgian grassroots groups and NGOs (such as Antwerpen Schaliegasvrij, StRaten Generaal and Greenpeace Belgium).
The international objection highlights the need to take the cumulative and transboundary climate and environmental effects into account, paying attention to the significant full lifecycle emissions along the supply chain. It states that no deforestation shall be allowed before any permitting decisions can be made on the ethane cracker and the PDH unit.
The signatories also refer to the ongoing plastic pellet pollution in protected Ramsar and Natura 2000 sites, and the absence of its management in the species and waste management plans.
“Apart from the fact that Ineos relies on climate hostile fracked US gas for their plans, we also see here a clear breach of the existing Natura 2000 legislation:, says Andy Gheorghiu, policy advisor and campaigner for Brussels based NGO Food & Water Europe. “The only way to solve the current massive virgin plastic pollution problem is to rein in the sources of such pollution, and that means stopping these facilities, not expanding them.”
“Ineos is a climate and environmental disaster — benefiting from fracking in the U.S. while planning to bring the dangerous practice to the United Kingdom and mainland Europe to produce more plastic waste,” said Scott Edwards, legal director of Food & Water Watch. “This company’s plans have been and will be met with a passionate, committed grassroots movement on both sides of the Atlantic. The Port of Antwerp must understand the additional high financial risk the relationship with Ineos represents.”
Joe Corré, founder of Talk Fracking, adds: “Every facility, like the proposed one by Ineos, that relies on fracked gas is a direct contribution to a dramatic increase in global warming, a constant production of plastic pollution and an involvement in human rights abuses along the supply chain. Everyone involved must be held responsible”.
“The #BreakFreeFromPlastic movement brings nearly 1,300 organisations around the world together to fight plastic pollution. INEOS are fuelling the plastics expansion with cheap plastics that will pollute our environment, but together we can put a stop to their polluting practices and expansion plans.” concludes Delphine Lévi Alvarès, coordinator of Break Free From Plastic in Europe. “The Port of Antwerp has already a massive transformational task to achieve. The investment plans of Ineos will torpedo every effort towards this necessary and existential process.”
Andy Gheorghiu, policy advisor and campaigner, Food & Water Europe
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