Belgian authorities have approved 3M's plans to restart a key manufacturing site seven months after concerns about "forever chemicals" and new pollution limits partly idled the company's Zwijndrecht plant.

The approval follows investments in new technology to "significantly reduce PFAS discharges and emissions from the facility," the Maplewood-based company said Friday. PFAS is a type of so-called "forever chemical" that is nearly impossible to remove from soils and water.

"3M Belgium expects the process for restarting previously idled operations at the facility to take at least several weeks," according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. "Belgian government authorities continue to maintain oversight of 3M Belgium's operations and compliance with applicable requirements at the Zwijndrecht facility."

Legacy contamination from PFAS production discovered in soil, water and nearby residents' blood prompted Belgian's environmental regulators to put strict controls on the plant last fall, which were finalized this spring.

PFAS, short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are used for their nonstick and water-resistant properties in a variety of products and do not break down in the environment. A sub-type of those chemicals that 3M no longer produces, PFOA/PFOS, are at the heart of legacy contamination disputes.

Maplewood-based 3M has committed more than $300 million toward remediation efforts in Belgium and said in Friday's filing "the company is in discussions with the Belgian government authorities regarding additional investments to fund further remediation actions."

The plant in Zwijndrecht is one of five PFAS manufacturing sites 3M has around the world. The others are in Alabama, Illinois, Germany and Cottage Grove.

The Belgian plant also accounts for a majority of the world's electronics coolant production, according to supply-chain consultancy Resilinc, and the shutdown threatened 3M's automotive, semiconductor and data center businesses.

While PFAS pollution has attracted a number of lawsuits, the Belgian shutdown appeared to be the first time a government agency had ordered a halt to the production of the "forever chemicals."