Several thousand tonnes of harbour sludge have been dumped in Køge Bay this year in connection with the construction of the artificial peninsula Lynetteholm in Copenhagen.
The Danish authorities have maintained that the dumping of port sludge does not harm the marine environment. They point out that the project’s environmental impact report states that the dumping of the sludge “will only result in a negligible impact on the water bodies”.
Critics say that the official conclusion is based on outdated research from the United States on the impact of nutrients on riverbeds. There is also concern about the effects of algae and oxygen depletion on the quality of the local marine environment. One of the problems with dumping the harbour sludge in the Sound just off Køge Bay is that the sludge contains large amounts of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. When it is dug up and scattered in the sea, it can cause the blooming of algae, oxygen depletion, turbid water, poor conditions for fish and plants, as well as a number of other negative consequences.
There is no evidence to suggest that the large amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus will not harm the marine environment when it is dumped and dispersed in an oxygenated environment with high biological activity.
Since KIMO ascribes to the precautionary principle, the board of KIMO Denmark has written to all the relevant authorities urging them to halt further dumping until an updated environmental impact assessment can be carried out. The Danish Ministry of Transport has stopped the dredging and dumping for the moment pending an investigation. The Ministry of Transport held a meeting with the Ministry of the environment yesterday and today they are meeting with the coalition partners.
The full text of KIMO Denmark’s letter can be read below:
To the Minister of Transport Trine Bramsen, the Minister of the Environment Lea Wermelin and coalition partners,
KIMO Denmark finds it positive and necessary that a decision has been made to stop depositing harbor sludge from Lynetteholm in Køge Bay.
KIMO Denmark has followed the debate on depositing of harbor sludge in Køge Bay. KIMO Denmark has respect for municipalities’ need to grow and develop, but in this case in Køge Bay, protection of our marine environment seems to be downgraded.
KIMO Denmark recommends that authorities reconsider their decisions to deposit harbor sludge in Køge Bay before the disposal continues. Several experts believe that the decision was made on the wrong basis and that it requires a new environmental assessment of how the sludge will affect the marine environment.
KIMO Denmark generally finds it important that the most suitable places for deposition take into account both the environment and recreational interests. This also means that it is particularly important that the necessary, correct environmental studies are carried out prior to the designation of suitable sites – and that the marine environment is continuously monitored in order to determine that the material complies with the requirements stipulated in the environmental assessment.
Chairman of KIMO Denmark
KIMO Denmark is a coastal municipality organization consisting of 18 municipalities, with the aim of safeguarding a clean marine and coastal environment.