Wednesday 22 September 2021

Local councils call for change of strategy over Tata Steel pollution

The Tata Steel plant in IJmuiden. Photo:

The leaders of three local councils close to the Tata steelworks in IJmuiden have issued a joint statement saying that the plant can only continue to operate if it produces ‘green, healthy and safe steel’.

The call by Beverwijk, Heemskerk and Velsen councils follows the publication of a report by public health institute RIVM last week, which concluded that dust in the 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.

In their appeal, published in the Volkskrant newspaper, the three councils state that they are breaking the ‘social contract’ with the steel giant, even though ‘steel production still has a future in our region’.

Tata Steel Nederland has a direct workforce of some 11,000, of whom 9,000 work in IJmuiden, but provides work for thousands more.

MPs are due to debate the future of the plant later on Thursday.

Legal case

In July, three foundations, supported by several wealthy individuals, said they are starting their own investigation into the increased risk of cancer and other diseases in people living close to the Tata Steel works.

The group argues that the public health institute RIVM and regional health board have been influenced by the pro Tata Steel lobby group and have left key questions unanswered.

A number of locals are also now taking legal action against Tata Steel for endangering human and animal health.

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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