News of: Tuesday, April 19 2011,
Today, the Crown Prince Willem-Alexander officially opened the Volgermeerpolder, a new nature reserve in Amsterdam North.
The contrast could hardly have been bigger: in the middle of the scenic, rural area Amsterdam North, just south of the very picturesque village Broek in Waterland, lies Holland's biggest chemical waste dump.
But now, without removing the toxic waste, it is a nature reserve.
For decades, barrels with extremely toxic waste were illegally dumped in this area, sized a hundred hectares (250 acres, or 0.4 sq mile).
The waste dump started in the 1960's, and continued until 1981, when the site was closed.
This happened after the discovery of the tens of thousands of barrels with toxic waste such as benzenes and dioxines. The Volgermeerpolder became one of the biggest environmental scandals in the Netherlands. Some near-by farms had to be closed, after discovery dioxine in agricultural produce.
After 1981 a period of investigation started, to see how the soil could be cleaned. It was decided that the soil would not be cleaned, and all the waste would be left where it is, and covered with a layer of thick plastic, in turn covered with a layer of soil and water.
250 Measuring devices in the ground will forever, continually monitor whether toxic waste is seeping away into the neighbouring area.
The work started in 2003, and today the new park is finished, at a cost of hundred million Euro. The result is a park with 'sawas', small lakes where new nature is supposed to develop.
There is a visitor centre, there are paths for walking, bicycling and horse-riding, and canooing is possible. It is not accessible by car.
The new nature reserve is open all year round, and the entrance is free.
The Volgermeerpolder is located about 4.5 miles (7 km) north-east of the Central Station.
Around the Volgermeerpolder is the very beautiful rural area of Amsterdam North.
Farm house in Broek in Waterland
Houses in Broek in Waterland
Areal view of Volgermeerpolder
Cows in Amsterdam North