A newly-formed coalition of environmental and community groups  – Global Action on ArcelorMittal – today released a report showing how local residents and workers around the world pay the price of ArcelorMittal’s success.
The report – ‘In the wake of ArcelorMittal – the global steel giant’s local impacts’  – was launched at a press conference in Luxembourg to coincide with the company’s annual shareholder meeting. It contains nine case studies detailing ArcelorMittal’s legacy of pollution, environmental damage, health impacts and poor worker safety.
Dead workers, stinking pollution and forced evictions New report highlights ArcelorMittal’s global trail of destruction
In the report the coalition demands that:
- ArcelorMittal implements environmental and health action plans in consultation with residents adjacent to the plants and plant workers in a democratic manner;
- Governments should not give ArcelorMittal perverse tax breaks or allow it to dispossess people from their land; and
- Public financial institutions should not support polluting industry such as ArcelorMittal, which has extensive resources of its own. 
The success of the company has coincided with the exploitation of weaker national laws and political wrangling, and the pollution and health and safety problems experienced by neighbours and workers at ArcelorMittal plants are more than occasional blips. Rather, they represent the logical conclusion of the company’s strategy of buying old, heavily polluting steel mills in countries such as Kazakhstan, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, South Africa and the USA, and implementing large production and cost-cutting targets.
Samson Mokoena, who lived adjacent to the ArcelorMittal plant in South Africa, represents the Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance, a coalition of community, religious and labour groups calling on ArcelorMittal to clean up its water and air pollution in South Africa. He said: “Buying cheap apartheid created state industry and making huge profits from it does not absolve one from dealing with its historic pollution, which led to the relocation of people in a democratic South Africa.”
Jan Srytr, of GARDE – Environmental Law Service, a Czech NGO, said: “In the Czech Republic the level of arsenic, dust and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons near the ArcelorMittal steelmill is seven times higher than allowed by Czech legislation, making the region’s air among the most heavily polluted in the EU. We sued the company last month on behalf of local residents and are planning to launch more suits.”
In India, ArcelorMittal is planning to build two giant plants on indigenous lands, destroying the livelihoods of local communities who are already poor and have no political voice to defend themselves.
Even though ArcelorMittal’s CEO and largest shareholder, Lakshmi Mittal, is the fourth richest person in the world, worth an estimated USD 45 billion, the company has been supported with no less than ten public loans from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Finance Corporation in the last ten years. Together these public loans have totalled around USD 692 million.
Dana Sadykova, of Eco Museum, Kazakhstan, said: “Public money is meant to ensure that society collectively benefits from development projects and investment, but investing in ArcelorMittal just condones the activities of a company that has been responsible for over 100 miners dying in accidents during the last five years in Kazakhstan. The investments are supposed to bring environmental and health and safety improvements, but the results on the ground just aren’t good enough. It is vitally important that senior international management take responsibility for improving the local conditions.”
Members of Global Action on ArcelorMittal will present this set of demands to their governments, the international financial institutions and ArcelorMittal, and step up their efforts to hold the company accountable on the local level.
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