Digging for Chromium in Valdemarsvik
The most expensive environmental cleanup in Swedish history, and possibly in Europe, is underway in view from our apartment windows here in Valdemarsvik. The culprit is chromium in the harbor sediment.
Lundberg’s Leather was one of the largest tanneries in Sweden. It operated from 1860 to 1960 and sits about 200 yards from the harbor waters and about 100 yards from our apartment building. Now the buildings host several businesses, a pharmacy, government offices, library, police station, and other activities.
During the 100 years of operations the tannery deposited a great deal of mercury into the soil and deposited chromium into the water, which accumulated in the harbor sediment.
Closed for approximately 50 years, there was considerable debate over whether dredging was a better approach to cap-in-place. Cap-in-place considers the older polluted sediments largely covered by newer sediments and argues that dredging will greatly disperse pollutants. Dredging won.
Unfortunately, and in spite of all assurances, dredging and shore restoration work does reduce tourism. And tourism is very important to Valdemarsvik.