Luxembourgh Times

High levels of phosphorus found in Syre river last year

The findings followed a study of the water in the Wecker area in Grevenmacher, and show levels higher than legally safe under EU guidelines

The Syre river east of Luxembourg City

The Syre river east of Luxembourg City © Photo credit: Volker Bingenheimer

Kathryn Oglesby

Part of a river running east of Luxembourg City had levels of phosphorus in it that were higher than legally safe under EU guidelines in two of the last four years, Environment Minister Carole Dieschbourg said on Monday.

The concentration of the chemical in the Syre river was found to be too high in both 2017 and again in 2020, Dieschbourg said in response to a parliamentary question, following a study of the water in the Wecker area in Grevenmacher in the east of Luxembourg. The Syre runs through Schuttrange, Roodt-sur-Syre, Betzdorf and Manternach, before joining the larger Moselle river.

The incident is the latest in a string of water pollution issues which have been plaguing Luxembourg in recent years. The latest pollution spill occurred at the end of April when thousands of litres of fertiliser and fuel leaked into a river in the east of the country, after the lorry carrying the chemicals crashed.

Some 15,000 litres of fertiliser and hundreds more of fuel seeped into the Ernz Noire, a tributary river of the Sûre which flows through Belgium and northern and eastern Luxembourg.

Ammonia pollution in the Attert river in March this year led to swathes of fish being killed after waste entered the stream following a fire at a gas plant in Grendel, Belgium, just over the border with Luxembourg.

In a separate incident in January, residents in parts of Luxembourg City were advised not to drink their tap water for two days after manganese, a chemical element, leaked into the supply. An investigation was also launched in March when pollution was found in the Alzette river, on the outskirts of the capital in Hesperange.