Is Tata cheating, now that the factory appears to be emitting more? You can't just conclude that

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Is Tata cheating, now that the factory appears to be emitting more? You can’t just conclude that

Once again there is a critical report from the RIVM about steel manufacturer Tata Steel. More than four months after RIVM researchers reported that harmful amounts of metals (such as lead) and PAHs were present in the vicinity of the Noord-Holland factory (9,000 employees), the environmental and health institute has come up with new conclusions.

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RIVM, which has been monitoring the living environment around the factory for some time, has found striking discrepancies in the measurement of, for example, emitted PAHs, molecules that are mainly found in deposits of coal and tar. What Tata Steel itself measures does not always seem to correspond to what can be seen in the environment on the air monitoring network.

1 What does the RIVM find?

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From a formal point of view, RIVM has investigated whether PAHs and metals around the Tata Steel site also come from there – this had never been scientifically established. The unsurprising conclusion that Tata is indeed responsible for this was overshadowed by another outcome that RIVM actually stumbled upon by mistake.

RIVM compared GGD measurements of metals and PAHs in the vicinity of the factory with the quantities you would expect based on the emissions reported by the factory. Sometimes they don’t match at all. For example, the emissions of some PAHs are on average a factor of a thousand higher than you would expect based on Tata measurements and reports.

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2 How is that possible?

RIVM proposes a number of reasons for the difference. For example, Tata Steel is only obliged to measure ‘at the chimney’ what it emits and to report this in the environmental reports. Dust that blows away from storage locations is then not included in those reports. This also applies to dust that leaks out through doors. Furthermore, some subcontractors on the factory site are not required to report their emissions. This concerns, for example, Harsco Metals, a company that was previously discredited because it regularly caused dust clouds.

Also read: The air is a disease maker. How can it get cleaner?

3 Could it be that Tata Steel is deliberately cheating?

This question is very much alive among many local residents whose trust in factories and government has completely disappeared. Greenpeace immediately came up with clear language on Friday morning: Tata Steel is not honest about its own emissions.

However, this cannot be concluded from the data. Tata Steel is not obliged to measure blown dust. The province noted on Friday that this is even very difficult to measure. Tata Steel is also not required to report emissions from other companies on the site. In an initial response, Tata Steel itself said that the measurement methods it uses are all legally approved. Furthermore, the North Sea Canal Area Environment Agency, the regulator, checks the environmental reports before publication.

4 Are residents more at risk to health than previously thought?

New. Previous health studies were conducted by RIVM on the basis of GGD measurements of the actual air quality in the factory environment. Tata Steel’s reports had nothing to do with that.

5 So what exactly is the problem?

In principle, citizens and governments should be able to rely on the national emission registration – based on the reports of Tata Steel itself – to find factual information about what exactly a factory sends into the living environment. In this way, different factories can also be compared with each other.

In fact, that information is now missing. The RIVM research raises the question whether ‘measuring at the chimney’ is really suitable for an exceptionally large factory complex such as that of Tata Steel, where gigantic mountains of coal and ore are stored, and where several companies are active.

There’s something to that. Tata is now investing several hundred million euros in reducing dust emissions. Good knowledge of exactly where the dust comes from, RIVM notes, may provide insight into the ‘effectiveness’ of the measures taken by Tata Steel. The research institute recommends measuring the emissions on the Tata Steel site more precisely.

6 What now?

Frisse Wind Nu, an organization that stands up for local residents, repeated its call on Friday to close Kooksfabriek II. This business unit is considered the most polluting of Tata Steel. Frisse Wind also wants an independent party to measure all emissions on the site.

Although the pressure on the factory to become cleaner is now increasing, it did not appear on Friday that much will change immediately. The province – regulator and licensing authority to Tata Steel – pointed Friday to existing plans to reduce the factory’s emissions. In the previous RIVM report, deputy Jeroen Olthof (environment and health, PvdA) wondered whether there was room for the steel industry in North Holland.

Now the province says it mainly sees confirmation of the “set course”; she therefore wants to keep Tata Steel committed to quickly reducing emissions by investing in, for example, filters. Noord-Holland also wants to find out whether emissions can be measured better. State Secretary Vivianne Heijnen (Infrastructure & Water Management, CDA) endorsed this in a statement, but also emphasized that the province is responsible.

Tata Steel itself points in a statement to the measures it will take in the coming months and years to reduce emissions. At the same time, the factory also says it wants to discuss the “complex” report with RIVM. “To see with them how the report was drawn up and to understand where the differences are.”

Is Tata cheating, now that the factory appears to be emitting more? You can’t just conclude that
Source link Is Tata cheating, now that the factory appears to be emitting more? You can’t just conclude that

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