Oil streaming into Amsterdam canal after rain likely from public transport garage
The oil that streams into the Zijkanaal I in Amsterdam-Noord after every heavy rainfall is likely from a nearby garage for GVB buses, Waternet told Parool on Wednesday after years of complaints from locals.
The water company and public works department Rijkswaterstaat investigated the source of the pollution after Amsterdam broadcaster AT5 reported about local houseboat residents’ frustration this week. For at least 15 years, they’ve watched the canal fill with a foul-smelling substance after every heavy rainfall. They’ve complained to the municipality, Rijkswaterstaat, and Waternet for years, but the pollution continued.
Last week, Rijkswaterstat placed oil booms in the canal to catch the pollution lying on the water like a film. According to the public works department, the substance is oil, not diesel, as the locals thought. It was a small amount that couldn’t be cleaned, a spokesperson told Parool.
According to Waternet, its latest investigation showed that the pollution ends up in the ZIjkanaal I via the rainwater drainage in the street. The drainage system also runs past a garage where Amsterdam public transport company GVB keeps some of its buses.
Like car washes and petrol stations, the GVB garage has oil separators that intercept water contaminated with oil before it ends up in the sewer. It could be that they don’t work perfectly during heavy rains, the water company told Parool.
Waternet reported its suspicions to GVB and the North Sea Canal Area Environment Agency, the regulator that acts on behalf of the municipality in the event of illegal discharges. The water company will also get a specialized company to clean the sewer.
Waternet promised to monitor the rainwater drainage more carefully and expects the Environment Agency to ensure that the GVB’s oil separators work properly. “We will do everything we can to resolve this for the residents.”
The houseboat residents on Zijkanaal I aren’t surprised by Waternet’s conclusions. When RIjkswaterstaat commissioned an investigation into the pollution nine years ago, it already mentioned that the GVB garage discharged oil-contaminated rainwater there. But the report claimed it was a thing of the past, according to Parool.