A Tribute to Antwerp South

A Tribute to Antwerp South

I have now completed one year of my research stay at Aquafin in Antwerp, Belgium. Most of my time here has been dedicated to the struvite pilot reactor located at the wastewater treatment plant Antwerp South and this is where I spend most of my days. During the past year I used to bike down to the Aquafin headquarters once per week to have lunch with the other fellows from the project, but during the autumn I will be the only TreatRec fellow in Antwerp. I would worry that I would be lonely if it weren’t so lucky that my colleagues at the wastewater treatment plant are a bunch of really friendly and funny guys named Jean, Luc, Rudi, Johan, Stefan and Patrick.

It is a wastewater treatment plant so as you can see it is completely male dominated. Except for one of the cleaners and sometimes when there are meetings, there are only men here. Some years ago I spent a year in another research project located at a large wastewater treatment plant in Brussels and the situation was similar. Visiting the bathrooms in the hall where we kept the pilot made me confused because on one door it was written “Monsieurs” and on the other one “Heren” and I didn’t know which one to choose.

Here it is not really that outspoken and there haven’t been any real issues other than that the guys subtly made me aware that I made a mess in the lab. They are namely very clean and tidy and would put many a university lab to shame when it comes to neatness and order. But the guys are open and friendly and have helped me out several times when I have needed a hand. In their favor is also that that they, very unusual for a treatment plant, do not have posters of nude women on public display. To be surrounded by softens nudes when you borrow a changing room, or even when you are seated with your computer to work is otherwise a bit off-putting to me. Luckily Antwerp South is not like that! Here is just my favorite radio station Radio Centraal 106.7 FM playing in the kitchen, freshly brewed coffee and discussions on industrial heritage, beer and other Belgian traits.