MPs called for tougher environmental standards for the Tata steelworks in IJmuiden, suggested closing the most polluting operations and even mooted partial nationalisation, during Thursday’s three hour debate.
The debate was called following last week’s publication of a report which concluded that dust in the IJmuiden region contains high levels of metals, such as lead, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
The level of pollution, which was highest in the seaside resort of Wijk aan Zee, is particularly ‘undesirable for the health of children’, the RIVM said. An earlier RIVM report also stated that air quality in the area is also poor to inadequate.
SP councillor Renske Leijten called on the outgoing government to take a speedy decision on what to do about the plant, which is responsible for thousands of jobs in the area.
However, caretaker economic affairs minister Steven van Weyenberg told MPs that changes in the emissions rules would require intervention by Brussels, and that would take years. ‘Within Europe, there is an entirely different vision of the steel industry,’ he said.
MPs are prepared to help Tata reduce its impact on the environment through subsidies, for example, to produce steel using hydrogen power rather than coal and other sources.
And MPs from across the political spectrum, including the VVD and CDA coalition parties, even suggested the cabinet look into taking a stake in the company.
‘In this unique situation, the cabinet should consider all options to guarantee the national interest,’ VVD MP Silvio Erkens said.
The debate will continue next Thursday.
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