Prosecutors launch criminal investigation into Tata Steel, Harsco Metals over pollution
A criminal investigation was launched by the Public Prosecution Service (OM) to determine if Tata Steel IJmuiden BV and Harsco Metals Holland BV intentionally and unlawfully released hazardous substances into the soil, air, or surface water. Doing so may have been a threat to public health, the prosecutors claimed.
"Examining the role of executives within these companies will be part of the criminal investigation," the OM stated. Both companies are based in Velsen, and work closely together. Tata Steel operates steel manufacturing facilities, and Harsco Metals is a residual product processor, the prosecutors said.
The OM's decision came after studying the complaint filed by attorney Bénédicte Ficq. The lawyer represents more than 800 people and several legal entities in the complaint against the two businesses.
Last month, a report from the RIVM said that data supplied by Tata Steel about the emissions of harmful substances may not have been complete, and that high concentrations of metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were measured in areas which did not match up with data from Tata Steel. The measurements of certain PAHs were about a thousand times higher than it should have been based on the company's data, while concentrations of copper, vanadium, lead, and chromium were all far higher than expected.
The prosecution service did not say how long its investigation would take, but stated they will not comment further until it is completed. They will then announce if they will pursue criminal cases against Tata Steel, Harsco Metals, or any of their managers or executives.
Tata Steel said it would cooperate with the OM's investigation.
The two companies are "frequently checked" to ensure they comply with regulations, and failure to comply can lead to criminal investigations and sanctions, the OM stated. A magistrate will hear two cases against Harsco Metals on Thursday. Tata Steel will have to defend itself over four violations later this year.
"One of these violations concerns the so-called 'black snow' that was probably caused by dust disbursed from coal in February 2021," the prosecutors added.