The steelworks will conduct a review into numerous residential complaints over dust level concerns in Port Talbot
Port Talbot-based steelworks Tata Steel has been issued with an enforcement notice by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to kerb pollution, after residents launched numerous complaints that dust in the area had not dissipated.
NRW stated it had agreed to make an action plan with Tata Steel on July 18, after residents raised concerns over the warm weatherâ€™s impact on pollution levels. This however, was followed by an enforcement notice to the company on Tuesday (30 July).
Officers from NRW initially visited the steelworks facility and identified the sinter plant where raw materials were kept and moved into storage silos for the blast furnace as one of the root causes for dust.
Working in conjunction with Tata Steel representatives, the officers also found a dust suppressant used by the steelworks was not effective at higher temperatures.
Now the enforcement notice has been implemented, Tata Steel will be required to conduct further review into the dust problems caused across June and July.
The steelworks aims to address this problem by reducing its sinter plant output and installing a water spray to reduce dust at source. It also had plans to install a new dust suppression system.
At a meeting with NRW and Neath Port Talbot county borough council, the steelworks outlined a range of actions it could take, and is exploring ways of engaging with residents.
Mary Youell, of NRW, said: â€œTata Steel has already taken immediate steps to reduce the dust coming from their site and have worked with us on this investigation.
â€œWe are pleased with their response so far, but we do want a longer term solution to these issues that have been made a lot worse due to the dry hot weather.
â€œTata Steel is a very important part of this community, and by issuing this enforcement notice we are making sure that it operates to the highest standards to protect local people and the environment.â€
Dr Sarah Jones, consultant in environmental health protection for Public Health Wales, added: â€œAlthough inhalation of dust can have an adverse impact on your health, for most people it is unlikely that this issue will cause any problems.
â€œHowever, exposure to high levels can make existing lung and heart conditions worse and can be dangerous for children and elderly people.â€
The notice follows an air quality action plan published by the Welsh Government on June 20 this year, in order to tackle high levels of PM10 from road traffic and steelworks in Port Talbot (see airqualitynews.com story).
The â€˜Clean Air for Port Talbot Short-Term Action Planâ€™ outlined possible solutions NRW could employ to combat pollution in in the area, including the trial of calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) which acts as a glue to trap particulate matter.
Speaking to airqualitynews.com, Tata Steel said it had nothing to add to Ms Youellâ€™s comments.