Umicore, Hoboken, the ecological debt of an industrial plant, Belgium

<div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Description</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld"></td><td class="columns">In 1887, a new lead and de-silvering operation in Hoboken started to refine minerals taken from what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. Today it operates under the name Umicore and is the world‟s largest precious metals recycling operation, based in Hoboken. It still recycles precious metals, but the operations have greatly damaged the health of thousands of citizens living nearby. Since 1973 this has caused many conflicts. Some soil remediation has been done, but no compensations for the loss of good health or the capacity to grow fruits or vegetables has been paid. </td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Basic Data</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Name</td><td>Umicore, Hoboken, the ecological debt of an industrial plant, Belgium</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Country</td><td><a href="/country/belgium">Belgium</a></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Province</td><td>Antwerp</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Site</td><td>Hoboken</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Accuracy of Location</td><td>HIGH local level</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Source of Conflict</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (1st level)</td><td>Industrial and Utilities conflicts</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (2nd level)</td><td>Incinerators<br /> Other industries<br /> E-waste and other waste import zones</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Specific Commodities</td><td><a href='/commodity/lead'>Lead</a><br /><a href='/commodity/rare-metals'>Rare metals</a><br /><a href='/commodity/recycled-metals'>Recycled Metals</a><br /><a href='/commodity/zinc'>Zinc</a><br /></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Project Details and Actors</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Details</td><td class="columns">Umicore had global revenues of € 1,723.2m in 2009 Hoboken processes some 350,000 tonnes every year from more than 200 different materials</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Project Area (in hectares)</td><td>1,000 </td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Population</td><td>Urban</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Start Date</td><td>1973</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Company Names or State Enterprises</td><td><a href='/company/umicore-group'>UMICORE Group</a> from <a href='/country-of-company/belgium'><small>Belgium</small></a></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Environmental justice organisations and other supporters</td><td>Geneeskunde voor het Volk</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">The Conflict and the Mobilization</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)</td><td>LOW (some local organising)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">When did the mobilization begin</td><td>Mobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Groups Mobilizing</td><td>Industrial workers<br /> Neighbours/citizens/communities<br /> Local scientists/professionals<br /> Industrial workers</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Forms of Mobilization</td><td>Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)<br /> Creation of alternative reports/knowledge<br /> Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Impacts</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Environmental Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Genetic contamination, Soil contamination</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Health Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Infectious diseases, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts<br /><strong>Potential: </strong>Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other</td><td>Cancer, lead in blood values</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Socio-economic Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures<br /><strong>Potential: </strong>Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Outcome</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Status</td><td>In operation</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Pathways for conflict outcome / response</td><td>Compensation<br /> Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area<br /> Court decision (victory for environmental justice)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Do you consider this as a success?</td><td>No</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Why? Explain briefly.</td><td>Despite some environmental improvements and soil remediation, the majority of the ecological debt of Umicore and its damage to the health and environmental of local populations remains unclaimed.</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Sources and Materials</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">References</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Meynen, N. & Sébastien, L., Environmental justice and ecological debt in Belgium: the Umicore case. Chapter in Ecological Economics from the ground up. Healy, H., Martinez-Alier, J., Temper, L., Walter, M., Gerber, J-F., New York, Routledge, 2013.<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9781849713993/" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Links</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Ceecec project: the case with full bibliography:<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.ceecec.net/case-studies/ecological-debt-environmental-justice-in-belgium/" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Meta Information</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Contributor</td><td>Nick Meynen</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Last update</td><td>03/05/2014</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div>
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