TATA Steel asks for 8 more years to improve air quality in Scunthorpe - September 1

TATA Steel bosses are seeking an 8 year stay of execution to cut emissions from the coke ovens on the Scunthorpe site as they fear the costs would far outweigh the environmental benefits.


The company, which employs 4,000 people in the town, has estimated the cost of rebuilding the ovens some of which date back to 1938 could be as high as GBP 833 million.

A spokeswoman for the Environment Agency said that "TATA Steel has made four requests to delay improvements for us to assess. The derogations can be permitted if we feel the costs of earlier implementation are disproportionately high compared to the environmental benefit."


The spokeswoman confirmed the requests for time-limited derogations until 2022 all related to the coke ovens. Should we believe that we are able to accept the requests, we will consult the public and professional partners on that position before making a final decision. That consultation would not start before October.”


She said that "If we don't accept Tata Steel's requests for derogations to meet the requirements at a later date, then we would issue a permit requiring all the new standards to be met by March 2016."


Company bosses have promised to deliver significant improvements on the 2,000 acre Scunthorpe site by the 2016 deadline. The improvements to meet a new directive from the European Union on industrial emissions included the removal of emissions of sulphur dioxide and a cutback in other pollutants known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from the coke ovens.


A TATA Steel spokesman said that "The PAH improvement plan will reduce emissions though a replacement and maintenance programme. The new environmental permit will formalise the commitment TATA Steel has made in the form of an agreed emission management plan. The implementation process allows for exceptions from best available techniques to be made in some limited circumstances which are set out in the industrial emissions directive as agreed after discussions with the environmental authorities.”


He said that "TATA Steel is always looking at ways of improving the health and wellbeing of both employees and the community at the same time as continuing to operate in a highly competitive global marketplace. Over recent years, Tata Steel has focused on reducing dust on the site. All the measures have been successful in reducing dust lift off."


The spokesman said that "TATA Steel's proposal, to install the best available technique for desulphurisation on all coke making activities by 2022, would reduce the emission of sulphur dioxide. The installation of coke oven gas (COG) desulphurisation is a complex project involving considerable engineering and technological resource and therefore it requires a phased implementation at the two ovens.”


He said that "It must be remembered, however, that the current sulphur dioxide emissions from coke ovens have not breached local air quality standards. TATA Steel is constantly investing in improving its environmental performance to reduce emissions as a way of lessening our impact on the local community and meeting our legal obligations.”


He added that "There are estimates of both initial investment and long-term costs. But it would be wrong to make those details public when Tata Steel's engineers are still working to identify the most appropriate technique and plant required to improve the process for both the Appleby and Dawes Lane coke ovens."




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