The inhabitants of the seaside village of Wijk aan Zee are threatening to take the Noord Holland provincial authorities to court for turning a blind eye to what they say are unlawful emissions by nearby Tata Steel and Harsco, the Volkskrant reports.
Action group IJmondig has engaged law firm Prakken d’Oliveira in a bid to force the authorities to act.
In a letter to the province, the law firm writes that ‘residents have been continually exposed to unlicenced emissions, grey and orange dust clouds, a rain of graphite and other deposits’. Among the health problems cited are respiratory complaints, headaches, nausea and concentration problems.
A spokesman for Tata Steel said the legal move is surprising as IJmondig and the company are in talks to limit the impact of its industrial activities.
The Volkskrant said the spokesman is referring to a graphite soot chamber due for completion in 2020 which Tata Steel claims will solve the problem.
However, IJmondig lawyer Bondine Kloostra said the province granted permission to build the chamber without a proper investigation into whether or not it would be effective against the pollution. ‘It’s being used as an excuse so the company can claim it is taking action,’ Bondine told the paper.
Harsco, an American company which is producing the graphite by processing Tata Steel slag, was last year revealed to have worked without the required environmental permit between 2014 and 2016. Tata Steel itself is accused by the law firm of breaching ‘emission limits’.
Noord Holland, which said it would investigate the claims, has four weeks in which to respond to the letter.