THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Businesses and local governments in the Netherlands must do more to protect residents who live near large industrial plants against the damaging effects of emissions, an independent report concluded Thursday.
The investigation by the Dutch Safety Board was launched amid long-standing concerns that residents were being exposed to potentially dangerous emissions and anger that companies and local authorities were not responsive.
The probe initially focused on a Tata Steel plant in the North Sea coastal town of Ijmuiden. It was later expanded to include a Chemours chemical plant in Dordrecht and an asphalt manufacturer in Nijmegen.
The Tata Steel plant has long been a source of concern for local residents. Dutch prosecutors last year opened a criminal investigation into alleged “intentional and unlawful introduction of hazardous substances into the soil, air or surface water.” In addition, the probe targets Harsco Metals Holland, a company that also operates at the Tata Steel plant in Ijmuiden.
“Local governments and environmental services must make better use of the current system of licensing, supervision and enforcement to protect the health of local residents,” the Dutch Safety Board said in its report.
“Due to a lack of knowledge, capacity and sense of urgency, the government often acts reactively. This means that harmful emissions can continue for a long time,” the board said.
Tata said in a reaction on its website that the investigation’s conclusions “speak for themselves.”
“We embrace the conclusion that there needs to be a better picture of the effect of industry emissions on the environment and that even more efforts need to be made to reduce these effects,” the company said.
In a reaction, Chemours said it continued “to invest in measures that significantly further reduce our emissions. In doing so, we work as closely as possible with the government in setting and achieving ambitious environmental goals. We also actively seek dialogue with the people around us.”