Tip your king over, Tata Steel

Wijk aan Zee Tata Steel
Wijk aan Zee with Tata Steel in the background. Photo by © Pieter Oosterhoff


Wijk aan Zee (The Netherlands), my local surf spot, is a place I hold dear to my heart. There is a great surfing community, a fantastic fish stall, and beautiful dunes with wild animals and high blast furnaces in the background. Perhaps it is that familiar industrial scenery that reminds me of where I grew up that makes me feel at home.

Many times I’ve wondered about the impact on the environment that Tata Steel, the steel producer behind those blast furnaces, may cause in the air and the water. And I wondered if that rush on my skin I get after surfing has something to do with it. I bring a bottle of water to rinse myself after each session. After that, it all seems to be ok. So I kept wondering. Until now. 

Black snow Tata SteelBlack snow around Tata Steel. Photo by  © Rob van Wieringen


Last month, images of black snow covering the area surrounding the company were published on social media. For many years, residents have been complaining about the pollution caused by Tata Steel. The images with the black snow became a visual example. According to Tata Steel, the black snow was the result of an error. Another error, like the one in 2018 when the company failed to prevent the spread of dust, the so-called graphite rains, containing unhealthy amounts of lead, manganese and vanadium, and affecting the neighbouring location Wijk aan Zee. These elements can cause serious harm to children’s development.

A group of concerned parents from the Kennemerland region have founded the Frisse Wind Nu. An environmental foundation that wants a healthy and safe environment to live, work, and recreate. And where a company’s business objectives are no causing any damage to others. Frisse Wind Nu requests Tata Steel to take all measurements to stop the pathogenic pollution immediately. The foundation has joined the case brought against Tata Steel by lawyer Benedicte Ficq for deliberately damaging human and animal health. “The environment is not an abstract concept. It is about the living environment of people and animals, and profitable companies can no longer cheat”, Ficq says.

Wijk aan Zee Tata Steel
Tata Steel at work. Photo by © Pieter Oosterhoff

A research by the GGD shows that lung cancer is more common in the area around the factory than the average in the Netherlands. The higher percentage of lung cancer in postcodes near the steel factory is likely associated with the emission of carcinogenic substances like PAHs and benzene by Tata Steel.

In the meantime, the RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and Environment) investigates the pollution in the proximity of the steel factory taking samples in Wijk aan Zee, IJmuiden, Velsen and Beverwijk and is expecting to publish the results soon. 

Tata Steel, it is time for you to take accountability for your environmental damages and immediately stop the pollution affecting your vicinity’s residents. It’s time for you to do more than a chess tournament for your community.

 

To support the cause, we’re donating all the money from The Cove to Frisse Wind Nu.