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Operation to clean Ixelles pond turns up a few surprises
Between five and six tons of rubbish was removed from the pond opposite Place Flagey on Sunday. The discarded items – including three handguns and a rifle – were removed as part of an action organised by the Municipality of Ixelles and the neighbourhood association Les Amis des Étangs (The Friends of the Ponds).
Around 40 experienced divers from Belgium's Lifras diving federation assisted in the clear up, pulling out nearly a dozen bicycles, a number of electric scooters – and six safes. In June, 12 safes had already been taken out of the pond during an exploratory dive.
The waste, most of which consisted of bottles, cans and glasses from the many nearby bars, filled one van from the Public Cleanliness department of Ixelles as well as a rubbish truck provided by the city. There were still a few piles of rubbish left over which were collected later in the day.
"It has been 11 years since this had last been done and it is far from over, because we have recovered all this in just two hours of cleaning," said Nabil Messaoudi, the Ixelles councillor responsible for sanitation, who oversaw the operation.
"What we see with this type of action is evidence of the attitude of some citizens towards a green area like this," noted the mayor of Ixelles, Christos Doulkeridis. "Cleanliness obviously concerns local authorities, but it concerns first and foremost the citizens and their civic-mindedness."
Audrey Lhoest, councillor responsible for the Environment, Green Spaces and Plantations, was pleased that the water had been cleared of batteries and other polluting waste, adding that the quality of the water, measured during the exploratory operation in June, remained good. She revealed that plans to redevelop the area were going ahead.
"To protect the site and increase its biodiversity, new plants and trees will be added,” she said. “We will be planting some vegetation to discourage native and Egyptian geese which can harm the site if they arrive in too large numbers. The plants we have chosen will also provide the area with a slightly wilder landscape."
New pathways will also be built in some places so that people can approach the water without harming the site.
Photos: Bertrand Wert