IJmuiden steel plant Tata Steel has pledged to speed up its clean-up operation, just a week after around 1,000 locals and eight NGOs made a formal complaint against the company, broadcaster NOS reported on Tuesday.
Measures to reduce the smell, emissions and noise pollution from the plant will now be apparent from 2023, not 2025 as pledged earlier, the company is quoted as saying.
The measures are not new, and were announced in 2019 and 2020, but Tata Steel now says it wants to complete the work more quickly. In total, the package of improvements will cost some €300m.
The news comes just a week after a large group of locals living close to the plant launched legal action against the company for deliberately damaging their health.
High profile lawyer Bénédicte Ficq is representing the local residents and eight of foundations in the case, and says that the factory has been dumping dangerous chemicals into the ‘air and soil of a densely populated area’.
Earlier this month, engineering union FNV Metaal said Tata should bring forward its long-term plans to cut pollution and boost energy efficiency.
‘Our plan shows that you can go green while maintaining employment levels,’ union chief Roel Berghuis said. ‘But our plan is conditional on the government changing its rules for reducing carbon emissions.’
Tata has plans to cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 40% by 2030, partly by capturing and storing the gas in empty gas chambers under the North Sea. In the following years, the plant plans to switch away from coal to green and hydrogen powered energy.
The public health institute RIVM is already carrying out research into local pollution caused by the plant and expects to publish the results next year.
It said in April that the air quality in the area around the plant is regularly poor and the local population has more acute health complaints – such as headaches, stinging eyes and nausea – than other parts of the Netherlands.
In February, Swedish steel group SSAB said it had pulled out of talks to take over the IJmuiden factory, saying it could not be made to operate to its sustainability standards.
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