Friday 01 July 2022

Tata Steel faces tougher permit rules and more pollution checks

The Tata Steel plant in IJmuiden. Photo:

The Tata Steel steelworks in IJmuiden will have to meet tougher rules on pollution and will face extra checks to make sure it complies, under a new government plan to improve the air quality around the plant.

The seven point plan includes includes tightening up plant’s current permits which will require Tata Steel to adapt its production processes. The company has also agreed to bring forward some targets outlined in its own roadmap for tackling emissions.

To find out if the improvements are actually being achieved, the current monitoring programme will be expanded and the RIVM public health institute will carry out two independent research projects on the impact of the measures in 2022.

‘This action plan does not immediately eradicate all the problems that affect local residents,’ junior infrastructure minister Steven van Weyenberg said. ‘After all, factories and production processes have to be adapted and improved, and that takes time. However, the plan does mean an acceleration towards a healthier living environment, with agreements and rules that Tata Steel is bound by.’

In September, MPs called for tougher environmental standards for the Tata steelworks, suggesting closing the most polluting operations and even mooted partial nationalisation.

Parliament made the call following the 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.

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

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.

Tata Steel recently announced that it will move to a more sustainable production process using hydrogen and green electricity, and aims to have partially switched by 2030.

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