Tata Steel permits tightened: air should be cleaner faster

Tata Steel‘s permits for the emission of harmful substances are tightened and extra checks will be made for those emissions. In this way, the Rijk and the province of North Holland want to improve the air quality around the steel company in IJmuiden more quickly, is in a plan of action that has been presented today.

Within a year, it is measured whether Tata also adheres to the tightened standards. This is done through two independent investigations by the RIVM into settled dust in the vicinity of the company, writes outgoing Secretary of State Van Weyenberg from Infrastructure and Water Management to the House of Representatives.

Thanks to the tightened permits, Tata Steel is forced to adapt factories and production processes, writes Van Weyenberg. According to him, it does not solve all the problems of the local residents. โ€œThe plan does mean an acceleration towards a healthier living environment, with agreements and rules that Tata Steel is adhered to.โ€

In September, the RIVM concluded that the health of children in the IJmond area in particular is at risk due to the emissions of hazardous substances, such as lead. The House of Representatives then urged the cabinet for action.

At the insistence of the Ministry and the Province, Tata Steel has now decided to accelerate a number of plans to reduce emissions. For example, the company does not want to emit 70 percent less lead by 2025, but already in 2023, compared to 2019. The emission of carcinogenic PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) will not decrease 30% at the beginning of next year, but 50 percent.

Van Weyenberg wants to โ€œconvert these promises from the company into mandatory measures where possibleโ€. To see if Tata adheres to the promises, the control is expanded and the RIVM will therefore carry out additional investigations.

Most complaints from local residents are about odour nuisance. According to the plan of action, everything has been done about that, but not enough yet. By tightening the permits, the company must start combating continuous odour nuisance.

โ€œIt’s good that more control is going to be done,โ€ says Linda Valent of local residents association Dorpsraad Wijk aan Zee. โ€œBut what happens when the standards are exceeded again?โ€ According to Valent, Tata Steel has promised improvement more often, but it mainly buys the company time. โ€œI would say: if they don‘t get it done, then the responsible factory installation must be temporarily closed. A fine is too weak.โ€

Valent is also disappointed that the Kooksfabriek 2 remains open for another ten years. โ€œIt is unimaginable that a coal factory in Rotterdam has to close, while that fifty year old carcinogenic factory continues to pollute the air for years to come.โ€ She calls it a ‘slap in the face‘ that the closing of the Cooksfabriek 2 in 2025 was not a prerequisite for granting subsidies to Tata Steel.

Switch to hydrogen

The steel giant had already expressed the ambition to work much more sustainably. For example, the furnaces, which are still working on coal, must have been completely converted to hydrogen in 2050. That is much cleaner, but it is not yet clear whether that will actually work out. Moreover, this takes far too long, find the ministry, the province and the municipalities in the IJmond area. Already in the shorter term, Tata must produce cleaner and more sustainable.

The EU also plays an important role in this. It is planned that guidelines on emissions of harmful substances will be adjusted in the coming years, which will allow companies to emit even less. But it’s not that far yet. Van Weyenberg sees opportunities, and wants to work together with like-minded countries for stricter standards.

What is Tata Steel for company and why is this steel giant often in the news? CCeit at 3 explains in this video: