A processing company involved in the processing of so-called slag at steel producer Tata Steel in IJmuiden has been wrongly imposed fines. The company, Harsco Metals, has complied with the regulations, the Council of State has determined.

Slag is a by-product of steel production. Harsco dumps the stuff in liquid form into pits, where it cools and solidifies. The rules state that nothing may be done when storing snails that causes the spread of dust. The province of North Holland thought that this happened after all and therefore imposed on Harsco tons of penalty payments. The company had to ensure that the emission of dust would stop.

An important reason for this measure was the graphite rains in the vicinity of Tata Steel, which caused a lot of unrest among local residents. These were caused by the tipping of liquid slag. Harsco contested the penalty payments in court, but the court ruled in favor of the province.

Installation, no storage

The Council of State, the highest administrative court, therefore sees it differently. The slag pits are part of the production process and should be regarded as installations, not storage. This storage only comes after production, when the cooled slag has been dug out. The regulations therefore do not relate to tipping, the Council finds.

In relation to the amount of slag supplied by Tata Steel, the capacity of the wells is limited. That is why a full well is cooled and emptied as quickly as possible. This happens at each well one or more times a day.

Incidentally, it is not allowed to spread dust indefinitely at slag pits: Harsco must have a spraying plan for this. According to Harsco, the controversial graphite rains have not occurred since April 2020, because since then slag has only been processed indoors, in a hall.

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