Tata Steel will speed up environmental improvement plans in IJmuiden
Tata Steel is going to accelerate its plans to improve the impact its IJmuiden blast furnace complex has on the environment. It also intends to have an installation that runs on hydrogen operating by 2030. The announcement was made after the steel group concluded new agreements with the Dutch government.
The company expressed its ambition to be completely climate neutral by 2045 in a letter of intent. According to a spokesperson, the company previously planned to achieve the milestone by 2050. Tata Steel also plans to cut down on its carbon dioxide emissions by five megatons by 2030.
Tata Steel said it will continue to investigate how it can limit its adverse effects on both the environment and the health of local residents before 2030. The investigation is looking into several factors, including whether it can shut down the highly polluting Kooksfabriek 2 at an earlier date.
Tata Steel already announced in September that it would switch its steel production in the Netherlands to natural gas, and eventually to hydrogen. Steel can be made just as well by these methods as with coal, but the switch will reduce carbon dioxide and particulate emissions.
"We want Tata Steel to become cleaner faster," said Minister Micky Adriaansens of Economic Affairs and Climate in a statement sent out by the company. "With this letter of intent, the company and the government are setting out the ambitions. We are now elaborating this further in the tailor-made agreements with the company."
Trade union director Cihan Lacin of FNV said it is an “important acceleration” in reaction to the announcement. This will also has positive consequences for the employees who work in the current factories, because they can then work elsewhere within the company if their current activities wind down, he said.
Donald Pols, the director of environment activist organization Milieudefensie, also had a positive reaction. "It is great that Tata wants to speed up. That is urgently needed," he said. "Obviously we are counting on caution when granting permits, and a substantial investment from Tata."
There has been a great of talk about Tata Steel's impact on the environment for years. Last month, research by the RIVM showed that people living near the steel factory are more likely to need medication for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Bénédicte Ficq, an attorney who represents local residents, spoke at the time about "criminal air pollution.” Previous studies have shown that people in the vicinity of Tata Steel are more likely than other Dutch people to get diseases, such as cancer. The Public Prosecution Service is now investigating whether Tata Steel is intentionally violating the law by emitting hazardous substances.
Reporting by ANP