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Luxembourg water bodies struggle to contain river pollution
environment

Luxembourg water bodies struggle to contain river pollution

16.08.2021
Latest incident was a concrete spill into the Drosbach river, from a construction site in Howald
A construction site in Howald on the bank of the Drosbach river
A construction site in Howald on the bank of the Drosbach river
Photo credit: Gerry Huberty

By Steve Remesch and Kate Oglesby

Luxembourg’s rivers and streams continue to be hampered by pollution issues, as the Grand Duchy lacks the resources to monitor construction sites for spills into the country’s water sources.

The Grand Duchy has seen a high number of pollution spills into rivers in the past years. The latest incident saw concrete spill from a building site in Howald into the Drosbach river, which in turn led to sewage leaking into the water.

“Controls [to monitor pollution spills] are absolutely necessary,” Luc Zwank assistant director of the country’s water management authority told the Luxemburger Wort. “But the water management office does not have the resources to actually monitor every construction site.” 

During the pollution incident in May this year in the Drosbach, concrete from a building site in Howald spilled into a sewer pipe in the river when it was being drilled into. This then hardened and blocked most of the pipe, meaning sewage was not draining properly and therefore spilling into the Drosbach.

But it took six days for the incident to be discovered by the water management authority and happened completely by accident when the body made a visit to the construction site and noticed there was a backlog in the sewer system.

Other recent pollution incidents include a discovery of high levels of phosphorous in the Syre river last year, a pollution spill in the Attert river in March which led to fish being killed, and a fertiliser spill in April in the Ernz Noire, a tributary river of the Sûre, which flows through the Ardennes.


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