Children living close to the Corus steel plant in the coastal town of IJmuiden have five to 14-times more chromium, tin and molybdenum in their systems than is considered normal, tv programme Zembla reported on Sunday night.
The figures come from research into heavy metal concentrations around the plant, carried out by Radboud University.
The amount of chromium found in the hair of children living in the seaside resort of Wijk aan Zee and in Beverwijk is similar to that found in the most polluted parts of the German Ruhr industrial region, toxicologist Martin van den Berg told the show. Chromium is a known contributor in causing lung cancer.
In addition, more people in the locality develop cancer because of pollution from Corus, the show claimed.
The Anglo-Dutch steel group denied any connection between cancer rates and its activities. The company said the ‘safety and health of workers and residents is an important priority’. Its own research on staff and in the locality does not support the Zembla findings, Corus said.
And the local authorities in the region also denied the show’s allegations that there were problems with the way Corus’s operating licences had been awarded.
But the environmental campaign group Natuur en Milieu claims Corus’s licences do not meet Dutch and European standards. It says Corus is allowed to discharge 50 to 100-times more highly toxic dioxins into the atmosphere than a medium-sized waste disposal furnace.
And the Wijk aan Zee village council is currently taking legal action against Noord-Holland province. It argues that too much focus was given to the economic benefits of Corus when the licences were granted.
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