Toxic Dump Too Close For Comfort


I’ve known for some time from the local papers that the site of the old Tollare paper mill is badly polluted. It’s only 1.6 km from my home, on the opposite shore of the Lännerstasundet inlet (one of the main historic shipping routes into Lake Mälaren). A couple of years ago, a large area in the water outside the site was fenced off with floating länsar to keep the bottom sediments from moving. Apparently, this was one of those paper mills that used mercury in a big way. They’ve recently started covering the polluted sediment with geotextile, cement and crushed rock. (Hope no interesting shipwrecks are hidden underneath.)

Everybody has a polluted old industrial site somewhere near their home. But as I learned recently, this is not just any polluted site. The Stockholm County council has completed a survey of polluted sites, identifying more than 8,000. And Tollare paper mill is ranked number 16 of them for severity of pollution. Woah.

My kids swim occasionally in Lännerstasundet. Shouldn’t be too dangerous unless they start eating seaweed. But I sure ain’t taking up angling…

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  1. #1 Lennart Nilsson
    December 28, 2007

    Nacka is pretty much full of these kind of sites. At one time a century ago the most polluting industries were pushed outside the city limits, a lot of them to Nacka. I live some hundreds of meters from number 10 on the list. The main concern right now is what climate change will do to the deposits, as more rain and higher sea levels might drain soil bound toxic substances into the sea water.

  2. #2 patrik
    December 28, 2007

    Sounds familiar… I’ve put together a map of the old toxic chemical waste dumps, created mainly by the pharmaceutical and speciality chemical industry around my city of Basel, Switzerland.

  3. #3 patrik
    December 28, 2007

    Sorry, this would be the link to the map:

  4. #4 Kevin Zelnio
    December 31, 2007

    My father in law works for Stockholm’s Vatten, which manages the condition of Mälaren. He is a manager of some sort, and a typical environmentally-minded swede. I wonder if he knows anything about the situation and could try to use SV to put pressure to get it cleaned up since Mälaren is the reservoir for Stockholm area’s water supply. I know he owuld do anything possible to protect (and increase!) the crayfish supply there lol.

  5. #5 Martin R
    January 1, 2008

    Kevin, your f-i-l would have to work fast before the deposits get covered by cement! But it’s not actually in Lake Mälaren, it’s in the archipelago about 7 km from the lake’s draining point at the Stockholm Sluice.

  6. #6 Lennart Nilsson
    January 1, 2008

    Actually a very thourogh investigation was made about how to handel these deposits without releasing mercury into the sea water. It was found that trying to dig up the fiber banks was far to risky since it would very likely release large amounts of mercury into the water. Covering them with rubber carpets and cement will, hopefully, keep the shit in place for a few hundred years. At which time the stride of science has brought us to a point where we would be able to handle it in a safe fashion.

  7. #7 kevin z
    January 1, 2008

    Ahh gotcha. So it is on the other side of Mälaren. Well he is trying to quit his job and move to near Västervik. I don’t blame him, I would like to move there too if there were only jobs for a marine ecologist there! I wonder what environmental disasters are there?

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