Eco violation charge against Arcelor Mittal South Africa

PTI Johannesburg | Updated on June 16, 2019

file photo   -  AFP

Arcelor Mittal South Africa (AMSA), a subsidiary of Lakshmi Mittal’s global steel empire, is facing charges of contravening environmental pollution laws amid growing concern about the impact on the population of an entire town where the company runs its major operations.

AMSA’s environmental manager Johan Hattingh has been summoned to appear in the Vanderbijlpark Regional Court on June 26 on the criminal charges of having violated the South African Air Quality Act.

Vanderbijlpark is a town established by the former state-owned steel enterprise Iscor, with almost its entire population now dependent on AMSA, established almost two decades ago after Mittal first helped bail out the ailing company and then took it over.

“The criminal investigation followed ongoing non-compliances detected at the Vanderbijlpark facility during an inspection undertaken by environmental management inspectors from the department and the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development,” Albi Modise, the spokesperson for the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), was quoted as saying to daily Business Report.

Over the years the authorities have been monitoring compliance within the Ferro Alloy Iron and Steel sector. Three prior inspections had been undertaken at this facility - in November 2008, October 2012 and August 2014 - followed by a number of enforcement interventions, Modise said.

Modise claimed that AMSA had been given more than a decade to bring about the required changes for legal compliance.

The area was declared a priority in 2006 and is one of three priority areas identified nationally in terms of the National Environmental Management Air Quality Act due to concerns about elevated pollution, said Modise.

AMSA faces a fine of up to 15 million South African Rands or imprisonment for the responsible persons if found guilty.

AMSA has also come under pressure from community activists in Vanderbijlpark and surrounding areas who have alleged that the residents have been affected by not just air pollution, but also water and land pollution from the largest steel manufacturer in South Africa.

Published on June 16, 2019

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