Tata Steel harmful emissions much higher than claimed: RIVM
According to the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), the data provided by Tata Steel on its emissions of harmful substances may be incomplete. After studying the matter, the institute reported that much higher concentrations of metals and PAHs are measured in the area than can be reconciled with the figures provided. "These data on emissions do not appear to have been fully provided," the researchers said.
For certain PAHs, the measured concentrations are up to a thousand times higher than would be expected based on the official emission data, according to the researchers. Copper was up to 50 times more common in the measurements, the metal vanadium was up to 30 times higher, and lead and chromium were up to 5 times more than the calculated value.
The researchers do not know precisely why they measured higher concentrations of certain substances than could be expected based on annual environmental reports and emission registration. They offer several possible explanations. The emission figures may lack data about subcontractors on the Tata site, such as Harsco. It is also possible that the company underestimates some emissions, especially in incidents. Rail traffic on the site and the storage and shipment of coal and oars are also potential sources of emissions not included in the official data.
Another factor that may play a role is substances that ended up in the soil years earlier being blown into the air again. "This allows higher concentrations to be measured than would be expected based on the emissions from Tata Steel."
The province of Noord-Holland and the municipalities in the region had requested the study because they wanted to know exactly where the pollution came from. That is not an easy question to answer, according to the researchers. "After all, there is no label from the sender on the dust particles." By analyzing the composition of settled dust and substances in the air, they nevertheless came to a clear conclusion: a "significant part" comes from Tata Steel.
Lawyer Benedicte Ficq said she was "extremely shocked" by the RIVM report. Ficq, who filed a complaint against Tata Steel on behalf of 1,100 people last year for causing health damage, will forward the report to the Public Prosecution Service to have it included in the investigation. "I want to investigate whether Tata is indeed messing with its data. If so, then they have a very big problem in terms of criminal law."
"There is a huge gap between the actual emission value and the reported value, and that is inexplicable. There must be an explanation for this," said Ficq. "This report is in line with what residents fear: that Tata is not reporting properly or insufficiently."
Tata Steel Nederland director Hans van den Berg said that he wants to meet with the RIVM as soon as possible to find out what the difference between its emission measurements and those of the researcher institute is. This makes it possible to see where the steel factory can make improvements, said Van den Berg.
Reporting by ANP