LONDON: ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaker, faces charges of leaving a trail of environmental destruction in its plants across the globe as environment campaigners plan to descend on Luxembourg next week to protest the company’s lack of sensitivity towards pollution control.
Arcelor Mittal Not Serious About Pollution Control Activists
Protestors will present Arcelor’s shareholders at its annual meeting with a 40-page dossier of evidence about the firm’s lack of interest in controlling pollution at its manufacturing units across the globe, from Orissa in India to Vanderbijlpark in South Africa, a media report said today.
According to Pippa Gallop of Bankwatch, a network of local campaign groups, the firm had grown rapidly by buying up former state-owned steel plants without investing sufficiently in cleaner technologies.
“The main problem is the aggressive cost-cutting strategy of this company,” he said.
ArcelorMittal, NRI tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, has received more than 500 million dollars in taxpayer-backed loans over the past decade, from development lenders including the London-based European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.
According to a report in The Observer today, Bankwatch said the steelmaker has used the cash to boost its bottom line, instead of mitigating the environmental and social impact of its plants.
Jan Syrtr, a Czech lawyer involved in bringing a test case against the company over pollution levels from its Ostrava plant, said people in the local district of Radvanice a Bartovice have to use magnets to clear the steel dust from inside their homes.
“Depending on the state of the weather, you can really smell that you’re in Radvanice,” he said.”We don’t want money; we just want this to stop.”
Liz Ilg, from Citizen Action in Cleveland, Ohio, demanded that the company put more effort into cutting pollution at her local works.
A spokeswoman for ArcelorMittal said: “ArcelorMittal takes health and safety and environmental issues very seriously. During 2007, we spent about 500 million dollars on health and safety and environment-related projects and since 1990 we have successfully reduced the CO2 footprint of our steel making by over 20 per cent.”
She said the company was drawing up plans to reduce emissions from the Czech plant.
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