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Tata Steel creates pollution and public health concerns in IJmuiden, The Netherlands

Steel production severely impacts public health and environment. Even though Tata Steel is the country's biggest emitter of CO2 and nitrogen, the factory is still operating as usual.


There are growing concerns over public health and environmental pollution surrounding the Tata Steel factory on the West Coast of the Netherlands. The effects of steel production in the area have been felt for decades, but the Dutch government has so far not taken measures to penalize or close down the factory responsible for the damages. In June 2023, activist groups organized a mass action against Tata Steel, and there are multiple lawsuits against the company.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict: Tata Steel creates pollution and public health concerns in IJmuiden, The Netherlands
State or province:Noord-Holland
Location of conflict:IJmuiden
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Metal refineries
Specific commodities:Steel
Project Details and Actors
Project details

- Approximately 9000 people are employed by Tata Steel IJmuiden [12].

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Project area:750 hectares
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:150,000 [6]
Start of the conflict:08/05/2008
Company names or state enterprises:Tata Steel Netherlands (Koninklijke Hoogovens) from Netherlands
Tata Steel from India
Relevant government actors:- National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:- Greenpeace:
- Extinction Rebellion:
- Frisse Wind:
- Mobilisation for the Environment (MOB)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Industrial workers
Local ejos
Social movements
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Noise pollution
Potential: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Global warming, Soil contamination
Health ImpactsVisible: Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts
Potential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Deaths
Other Health impactsHeightened levels of heart and vascular disease, cancer, lung disease, and brain damage. Damage to children. "Locals living in the vicinity of the Tata Steel steel works in IJmuiden are still being exposed to dust containing high concentrations of carcinogenic substances, with children in Wijk aan Zee most at risk, public health institute RIVM has found. High levels of polycarbon-based pollutants and metals, including lead, have once again been found in coarse dust particles deposited in Beverwijk, Velsen-Noord and IJmuiden, and particularly in Wijk aan Zee, the latest of two probes carried by the the public health institute in 2022 has shown".
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (undecided)
Proposal and development of alternatives:While some groups argue specifically for closing down the most polluting facilities of the factory and building a renewed infrastructure that allows the company to run off hydrogen, others point to the fact that such changes take vasts amounts of time and money. According to these critics, closing down the factory altogether is the preferred option to prevent further damages to public health and the natural environment. For the latter proposal, it is important to consider the fact that closing down Tata Steel would lead The Netherlands to import steel from other parts of the world. Thereby, pollution would simply be relocated to other parts of the world.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:While those living close to the steel plant continue to suffer the health impacts from the factory's emissions, Tata Steel so far has not taken drastic measures to reduce the impact of their activities on people and the environment. Although the company is developing sustainability plans, rapid changes are not to be expected in the short term.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[14] Earth IslandJournal.Our ‘Dirty Neighbor’: A Small Town at War with the Netherlands’ Largest Steel Factory. The residents of Wijk aan Zee face the impossible choice of fighting for their town’s future or leaving. Olivia Wynkoop. November 30, 2022
[click to view]

[1] BNN VARA. (8/2/2023). Wat spelt er allemaal rond Tata Steel? Een overzicht.
[click to view]

[2] Baeten, P. (19/1/2007). Korte historie van Hoogovens in IJmuiden: de ideale lokatie voor een staalbedrijf. Kennislink.
[click to view]

[3] Lemm, W. (24/4/2023). Tata Steel(t): de vervuiling van Tata Steel voor mens, dier en natuur. Greenpeace.
[click to view]

[4] Frisse Wind. (28/3/2023). Feiten & cijfers over de impact van Tata Steel.
[click to view]

[5] Van der Zee, S. (31/8/2018). Het gebruik van CGN gegevens op local niveau. GGD Amsterdam.
[click to view]

[6] Extinction Rebellion. (24/6/2023). Extinction Rebellion blokkeert staaltransporten Tata Steel met lock-ons op de spoorlijn.
[click to view]

[7] Koster, R. (14/4/2021). Onderzoek bevestigt vermoedens: bewonders rond Tata Steel Ijmuiden vaker ziek. NOS.
[click to view]

[8] Jak, T. (29/5/2021). Alle pijlen op Tata Steel: een overzicht van de zaken die tegen het bedrijf lopen. NH Nieuws.
[click to view]

[9] NOS. (29/8/2022). Tata Steel zet stap naar productie staal met waterstof.
[click to view]

[12] Tata Steel. (n.d.). IJmuiden.
[click to view]

[13] Stekelenburg, R. (24/8/2023). Massaclaim van honderden miljoenen euro’s voor Tata Steel. ‘We doen dit namens iedereen die het aangaat’. Noordhollands Dagblad.
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[10] NOS op 3. (10/4/2021). De twee gezichten van staalreus Tata Steel. Youtube.
[click to view]

[11] Op1. (23/6/2023). Medewerkers van Tata Steel gingen onverwachts op bezoek bij Greenpeace. Youtube.
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Layla van der Donk
Last update24/08/2023
Conflict ID:6391
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