Birelerbaach river; Credit: natur&ëmwelt

The Syre water partnership (Partenariat de cours d'eau Syre) has urged Luxembourg Airport to do more to protect water.

According to the partnership, the airport's rapid development, construction works and increasing flight movements, as well as the use of de-icing agents (especially in winter), come to the detriment of water protection. They cited the recent contamination of the Birelerbaach river by de-icing agents as one example of this. 

The partnership said in a statement that it had tried several times (in vain) to persuade the responsible authorities to remedy the situation, claiming that the airport appears to be "allowed to operate in a legal vaccuum".

With heavy rain incidents increasing in recent years, the partnership said it expected the old basins to overflow many times before the new retention basins and the new sewage treatment plant in Uebersyren (small town in southern Luxembourg) are completed.

In the meantime, the Syre water partnership posed the following questions: "Who actually pays for the damage? Does the polluter pays principle not apply here?" The partnership recalled that the sewage treatment plant in Uebersyren has overflown several times in the last few years in the winter months due to the use of large quantities of de-icing agents: "Who actually pays for the damage if the wastewater from the airport, but also the wastewater from the five connected municipalities, ends up in the Syre [river] untreated for months because the sewage treatment plant fails?"

With many more winters foreseen before the airport's new de-icing disposal system works properly and years before the new sewage treatment plant is completed, the partnership expressed fears that the Syre river will be "polluted again and again". They maintained that the "repeated claim that the European Directive gives Luxembourg time until 2027 to put its waters in order is deliberately misleading and is intended to divert attention from past failures". 

The Syre water partnership has thus called on Luxembourg Airport to urgently find interim solutions to prevent any more glycol from running uncontrolled into the Birelerbaach river and towards the sewage treatment plant.