GGD director scrapped Tata Steel from lung cancer report
The director of GGD Kennemerland, Bert van de Velden, deleted Tata Steel’s name from a report on lung cancer in IJmond, the Noordhollandse Dagblad reported. Tata Steel is the largest source of air pollution in the region.
Van de Velden allegedly intervened several times to avoid that Tata Steel’s name appeared in a report on cancer prevention in Kennemerland. The Noordhollandse Dagblad reviewed 31 draft versions of the report which appeared one year ago. Tata Steel was initially mentioned in the draft but did not appear in the final version. The steel manufacturer was also said to have received the document a day before it was published.
People in Kennemerland are 25 percent more likely to get lung cancer than the national average. In densely populated neighborhoods, lung cancer rates can lie up to 50 percent above average. In the report, smoking was named as the main cause for the high lung cancer rate.
"This piece may be influential for the investigation of the Public Prosecution Service", lawyer Bénédicte Finq said. "I want people to learn about the potential power that Tata Steel has to influence independent investigations."
“I am a really scared of this. What else is being kept from us to please Tata”, local resident Dirk Weidema wondered. “The GGD recently asked me again to join a board group for the Health Monitor 2020. I said that I don’t feel like it anymore if they hide the facts.”
“The word Tata should not be used”, Van de Velden recommended to his employees according to the newspaper. Van de Velden admitted to the Noordlhollands Dagblad that Tata had indeed been swept from the messages, although he stated this was done for purely stylistic reasons.
In a letter to the newspaper, he stated “terms were not used consistently” because they need to be “aligned with the design of the inventory.” Van de Velden also wrote, “We have never been pressured by Tata about anything.”