The investigation exposes the fact that improvements must be achieved in protecting the health of local residents against harmful industrial emissions. There is a tangible mistrust of industry and government, among local residents.
The Dutch Safety Board issues the following recommendations:
To Tata Steel, Chemours and APN:
1. Fully implement the legal obligation and social responsibility of companies to protect the health of local residents against harmful industrial emissions.
a. At least ensure a clear understanding of your own production processes and the contribution of your own emissions to exposure levels and health risks of local residents. Invest in investigating and filling knowledge gaps.
b. At least ensure a reduction in the exposure of local residents to harmful substances emitted by the company, as soon as increased risks to health are revealed.
c. Use the expertise of the company to reduce the exposure of local residents to harmful persistent substances emitted by the company in the past, if increased health risks emerge.
2. Ensure that the above recommendation is brought to the attention of members and sector organizations active in these sectors.
To the provinces of Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland and the municipality of Nijmegen, as competent authority:
3. Ensure that you are making full use of all possibilities within the current system of rules and regulations to protect the health of local residents against harmful industrial emissions. Where this is not the case, adapt your procedures. At least ensure:
a. An understanding of the emissions from companies. Regularly test the emission overview for completeness and correctness.
b. An assessment of the health risks per substance to which local residents are exposed. Do this at regular intervals and take uncertainty into account. Ensure that you have the necessary information about exposure and the health effects of substances.
c. More restricted permitted emissions when necessary for the health risks for local residents.
d. Timely implementation of BATs by companies.
e. Exchange of knowledge and experience with other competent authorities and environmental agencies.
To Tata Steel, Chemours and APN, to the provinces of Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland and the municipality of Nijmegen and to the environmental agencies DCMR, Noordzeekanaalgebied and Regio Nijmegen:
4. Make full use of the system for protecting the health of local residents against harmful industrial emissions. Communicate proactively and be transparent about incidents, concerns and complaints in order to regain the trust of local residents.
To the Minister for the Environment:
5. In collaboration with the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport and the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, ensure that competent authorities and environmental agencies are able to fully live up to their responsibility for the process of issuing permits, supervision and enforcement of industrial companies, to better protect the health of local residents. Take into account at least the level of knowledge, the capacity and the feasibility and uniformity of legislation.
6. Encourage the development of knowledge about the health effects and risks of substances emitted by industry and ensure that both government and companies use this knowledge, in order to protect the health of local residents.
7. Ensure that the precautionary principle weighs more heavily in the system of permitting for persistent substances.
To the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment:
8.Together with the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport, investigate how environmental agencies can have knowledge of the health effects and health risks of substances emitted by industry.