Three out of ten children near the Umicore factory in the ‘Moretusburg’ district of Hoboken have elevated lead concentrations in their blood. Prolonged exposure can have detrimental effects on the development of their brains and nervous systems. Umicore has already taken various initiatives to reduce the factory’s emissions, but these measures are not sufficient to protect the children in the neighborhood from exposure to the toxic substance.
Due to these increased lead concentrations, the residential area in Antwerp is slowly emptying out. However, this mass migration is not happening willingly. “I see them all leaving. If it’s not in a casket, it’s with a pile of money from Umicore,” said Francine Wuyts (70).