The public prosecution department is starting a criminal investigation into the possible ‘intentional and unlawful’ discharge of ‘hazardous substances into the soil, air or surface water’ by IJmuiden-based Tata Steel and Harsco Metals Holland.
The department told the two companies on Wednesday it is starting the investigation into the ‘potential endangerment of public health’ following a complaint brought by lawyers on behalf of 800 locals and a number of interest groups.
Lawyer Bénédicte Ficq made the complaint on behalf of locals last year. She says that the factories have been dumping dangerous chemicals into the ‘air and soil of a densely populated area’.
Last month, public health institute RIVM said the Tata steelworks in IJmuiden is the main source of metal and polycarbon-based pollutants in the IJmond region, and figures collected by the regional health board show the pollution is more serious than the company’s own records would indicate.
The study is the third by the RIVM into pollution in the area.
In September, MPs called for tougher environmental standards for the Tata steelworks, suggesting closing the most polluting operations and even mooting partial nationalisation.
In December, the government published a seven point plan to improve air quality around the plant, which means Tata Steel will have to meet tougher rules on pollution and will face extra checks to make sure it complies.
Three foundations, supported by several wealthy individuals, have also started their own investigation into the increased risk of cancer and other diseases in people living close to the steel works.
The public prosecution department said it would make no further comment on the case while the investigation is in progress.
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