Coal and iron ore scraps from Tata Steel dumped in the North Sea: Report
A large amount of coal and iron ore scraps remain behind on ships uploaded at Tata Steel in IJmuiden. In theory, Tata Steel must clean up these scraps before the ships leave its port. But in practice, thousands of kilos of scraps end up in the North Sea, Noordhollands Dagblad reports based on its own research and information from sources at the steel plant, who supported their claims with documents.
According to Noordhollands Dagblad, instead of cleaning the coal and iron ore scraps that end up on the deck of the ships while unloading, Tata Steel pays the ships' captains and sailors in cash to deal with it themselves. They end up shoveling it overboard once they're out of the port, the newspaper wrote.
Drone images and photos taken by the newspaper during the investigation show ships leaving the Tata Steel port with thick layers of coal or grit on their decks. Sometimes the layers of coal are up to a meter thick. One video shows sailors using brooms and shovels to get the junk overboard immediately after leaving Tata port. Sources within Tata Steel told Noordhollands Dagblad that sailors always throw spillage overboard once they're out of the harbor.
"Coal or iron ore is almost always spilled on the deck of such a ship because unloading has to be done with great haste," a Tata Steel employee told the newspaper anonymously. "If such a boat is docked for too long, it costs Tata Steel thousands of euros per hour. Tata more or less rents the boat from the shipowner during that period, so we have to work fast. The decks can then get dirty. Sometimes with a small layer of coal dust, but sometimes with a layer of one meter thick. Instead of cleaning up itself, cash is taken from the safe in the harbor. The case is settled with the captain of the ship. Always works. Most sailors come from poor countries and think it is a nice bonus. I have seen with my own eyes that shipmates were paid cash for cleaning. This is also in daily reports and other documents."
Noordhollands Dagblad said it has copies of documents in its possession showing that Tata Steel pays ship crews several hundred euros in cash to clean up what has been spilled. The amount is negotiated separately with each captain and paid in dollar bills.
The dumping of industrial raw materials into the sea is prohibited under Dutch and European legislation, permits, and international treaties. Dutch regulations even make it illegal for a skipper to sail away with a dirty deck. Tata Steel's own port regulation states that the steel company is responsible for cleaning up the deck before a ship leaves, according to the newspaper.
Tata Steel said in a response that it does not recognize "the picture sketched in this speculative article of thousands of kilograms of raw materials deliberately disappearing into the sea and the allegation that skippers would be paid for this." The unloading of raw materials is done in accordance with procedures, the company said. Tata Steel contracts a company that works in the ports to ensure that the ships' holds are entirely emptied, and employees are then sent in to sweep up remnants left behind in corners of the hold.