Monday 19 April 2021

Tata Steel accused of dumping mercury illegally: Volkskrant

The Tata Steel plant in IJmuiden. Photo:

Tata Steel in IJmuiden has been releasing mercury into the sewage system without having the necessary permits and is failing to curb emissions of dangerous substances, the Volkskrant claimed on Thursday.

The paper based its allegation on a warning letter sent last week to the company by environmental watchdog Omgevingsdienst Noord-Holland.

The watchdog had asked Tata for a list of the highly contaminating substances it releases into the waste water system in 2019 but received an – incomplete – account  only late last year and this January, the paper said.

Based on the information provided however, it signalled that the steel producer is also illegally dumping more mercury than would be permitted if it had a licence.

A Tata Steel spokesman said that the company did have a licence to discharge mercury and claimed the concentration of the substance had not been measured correctly. He also disputed the claim that the company is not doing enough to limit emissions of extremely harmful substances.

Tata Steel has been at the centre of a number of pollution scandals, some of which were condoned by the authorities, the Volkskrant said. The company’s cyanide discharges, for example, exceeded the European norm but were allowed because the water authorities decided it was ‘not achievable’.

Inhabitants of  nearby Wijk aan Zee have complained for years about the so-called ‘graphite rain’ produced by Harsco Metal, a company which processes slag on the Tata Steel premises.

It too contains worrying amounts of toxic substances. The inhabitants are taking court action against the company for endangering human and animal health.

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