Akzo Nobel has moved quickly to clarify its position after the Dutch government announced its intention to pursue a long-standing legal case against the company relating to soil contamination at several sites in the Netherlands.
The Dutch ministry responsible for the environment says it has spent EUR 27 million cleaning up a number of locations which it claims were polluted with the insecticide HCH (hexachlorine cyclohexane) by Akzo Nobel between 1954 and 1975.
In April 2001, the Dutch Supreme Court ruled in principle on this matter and stated that Akzo Nobel was not liable for the contamination. The court added that the State would have to prove that Akzo Nobel acted deliberately or was reckless in any way.
Evidence was heard at the time, but there was no proof that the company had acted negligently or irresponsibly.
For technical legal reasons, the matter was then referred to the High Court in Den Bosch, but the government did not take any further steps for two years.
Because Akzo Nobel wants a definitive ruling on the matter, the company contacted the High Court six months ago to request official exoneration for any blame. The government, however, is still pursuing its own case.
No date has been set for the current legal action, although Akzo Nobel is confident that the matter will be concluded in its favor.
(Released: February 17, 2004)