Tata Steel asks Environment Agency to delay air pollution control measures at Scunthorpe site, which could cost firm Â£500m
Tata Steel could be forced to employ stricter air quality control measures at its site in Scunthorpe.
The steelworks has until April 30 2014 to show how it will make improvements to the facility by March 2016, in compliance with EU directives.
The firm could face total costs of Â£500 million to upgrade the plant, which would see it build three new coke-quenching towers, bag filters in sinter plant and replacing the ageing coke ovens.
In response, Tata Steel is understood to be seeking a stay of execution until 2020 for some of the measures to be introduced, claiming the improvements would be too expensive or unfeasible.
However, the Environment Agency has warned the company has not yet justified its case for a derogation, which could see parts of the legal measure applied differently.
It argued that a time-limited derogation for a desulphurisation plant to be built in Scunthorpe at a cost of over Â£31 million to reduce emissions of sulphur dioxide was unacceptable.
A letter written by the Environment Agency to Tata Steel states: â€œThe level of information you have provided so far is not sufficient for us to agree that a derogation is justified.
â€œWith regards to the benefits, the damage to human health and the environment whether through the medium of air, water or solid waste should be estimated for all of the options. They should include a reference to the mass release of relevant pollutants for each of the options.
â€œThese calculations should employ the most robust and best data available. The amount of effort used to calculate these environmental and health damages should be consistent with the magnitude of the likely damage.â€
Tata Steel, which is yet to announce its plan to comply with the statutory regulations, has meanwhile pledged to refurbish electrical systems in the sinter plant and generate extra electricity by recovering steam.
In January last year, a report published by Defra that found concentrations of potentially harmful pollutants exceeded the European Commission target at both Scunthorpe Low Santon and Scunthorpe Town monitoring stations.
The Scunthorpe monitoring stations made up two of three reported to be measuring â€˜unusually highâ€™ concentrations of the benzo[a]pyrene compound in 2011, including Ballymena Ballykeel in Northern Ireland.