BRUSSELS - “When discussing drug production, we rarely look at the environmental damage and costs. Belgium, together with The Netherlands, is the main producer of synthetic drugs in Europe, and the chemical waste deriving as a by-product from the production here remains.

In the past five years, the number of drug labs and drug dumpings in Belgium has increased sharply, posing an economic burden on small towns at the border regions of Flanders. But beyond the costs that can be easily quantified, to what extent is the environment affected?

Some time drug waste is found in barrels, but now more than ever, gangs have started dumping it directly within nature. The diversification of drug production in the country could even pose more dangerous effects. No standardised procedure or method to assess environmental hazard of such substances is existing at a national level. Local authorities, citizens and regional politicians are now trying to find ways to fight the battle.

This is the first attempt to  investigate the environmental impact deriving from illicit drug production within Belgium. The research also extends to The Netherlands and Germany.

Photo: © Daniela De Lorenzo

Daniela De Lorenzo

Daniela De Lorenzo is an Italian freelance multimedia journalist based in Brussels, Belgium.
€ 6.000 allocated on 26/03/2021.