Scientists join locals’ battle against Tata Steel

Scientists join locals' battle against Tata Steel
Steel producer Tata Steel.ANP . image

Last weekend, the KWF publicly supported the initiative of three institutions to conduct their own research into the increased risk of lung cancer, among other things, in the area around Tata Steel. Backed by a few wealthy entrepreneurs, the foundations (Schapenduinen, Frissewind.nu and IJmondig) want to do ‘at source’ research for Tata Steel. In practice, this means: taking measurements with underwater drones and robots in every chimney and pipe of the company. One million euros has already been prepared for this.

KWF has now joined in: “We have the same goal: to find out why the risk of lung cancer is increased,” says KWF’s Annebel Schipper. “We have the network, we have a lot of experience in scientific research, we know who we are communicating with, how we analyze the data. We also see a role for us in terms of publicity: to emphasize the urgency of this. Our goal is the same as that of the local people: there is now a lot of turmoil and a lack of clarity We need answers to that.”

More complaints than anywhere else

According to previous RIVM research from April, more health problems occur in the IJmond region than anywhere else in the Netherlands. From a 22 percent to here and there, a 50 percent greater chance of developing lung cancer among others. A second study of sweeping samples of sediment that circulates over the area each day has yet to be presented.

But this research does not answer the question: Where do these materials come from? In addition, more suspicion arose against the “government” in the region after it became clear that the director of GGD personally had deleted Tata’s name from a health survey.

The famous forensic scientist Frank van de Goot also agrees. The coroner spoke this weekend with Jan de Jong, the senior president of investment firm Nedamco and the leader of a plan to conduct his own research. Van de Goot can check dead bodies from the area for chemicals and then compare them to a control group “far” from Tata Steel.

However, he cautions, it cannot simply be concluded that a person has fallen ill from those substances and that this is all Tata’s fault. Van de Goot already noted that many foreign studies on the relationship between steel mills and cancer were not included in the RIVM reports. To check if this is really true and why, Van de Goot sees an important KWF in this.

Annebel Schipper does it quickly: “We’re not yet at the point where we know what we can do yet,” she says. However, RIVM knocked on the KWF’s door again, according to Schipper, to also report on what’s currently going on.

Don’t overburden each other with your search

Responsible Representative Jeron Olthoff – the man who, according to the activists’ organizations, does not want to order an investigation from the source – is now on furlough. He told us over the phone that “he wants to sit down with the initiators about his source research.” “Measurement in the chimney sounds simple, but it really isn’t. That’s why I want to know first: what exactly do you want to measure?” He hopes the KWF will contact him soon. “Let’s not drown each other in investigations. But really: I also want IJmond to be a healthy living environment.”

Jan de Jong reacts very sarcastically to this: “This is how it always goes: sit around the table. Let’s talk. We’ve been asking to find the source for years. I’ve just emailed him this very obvious question: Are you ready to direct the RIVM to measure Tata emissions?” From the source? You just have to say yes or no.” Olthof has not responded to this yet.

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