Tata Steel pollution no longer an acceptable trade-off: local aldermen
Tata Steel, and both Corus and Koninklijke Hoogovens before that, has driven job creation and helped grow the economy of the IJmond area for decades, but the pollution and associated risk to local residents' health are no longer an acceptable trade-off, the aldermen of Beverwijk, Heemskerk and Velsen said in a joint statement to the Volkskrant.
The times are changing and the aldermen are breaking the "tacit social contract" that existed for decades between the municipalities and steel manufacturer, they said.
"Everyone benefited from the Hoogovens, as an important employer and as a driver of the economy in the region," Brigitte van den Berg, D66 alderman in Beverwijk, said to the newspaper. "The nuisance and possible health risks were taken for granted."
But a report published by public health institute RIVM last week, showing that the dust in the IJmond area contained extremely high concentrations of hazardous PAHs and heavy metals, made those possible health risks concrete. "Our concerns about pollution have now turned out to be facts", Sebastian Dinjens, GroenLinks alderman in Velsen, said.
Tata Steel responded that it is doing everything it can to limit emissions. But according to Heemskerk alderman Frits Brouwer (CDA), "the current path of small measures is no longer sufficient" and it is time "for big steps". "Something really hast to change," he said to the newspaper.
According to Van den Berg, local residents realize that it is not normal for the laundry to get dirty from the emissions outside and their governments need to support them in creating a safe living environment. "It is time for new agreements, a new social contract, supported by a new coalition," Van den Berg said.
Tata Steel can only survive in the IJmond if it produces "green, healthy and safe steel", the municipalities said. "There is a future for steel production in our region. But only if we weigh all rights and interests together in a far-reaching dialogue: health, economy, quality of life, climate, employment, innovative power and knowledge capital."
The Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, will debate Tata Steel and its impact on the environment and public health on Thursday.