Combating dust has always been one of the key elements in our environmental policy. This is proven by the capital-intensive measures we have undertaken throughout the years. This is how our current dust emissions amount to only 10% of our dust emissions in the late 1980s. When talking about air quality, we are talking of:
We have made considerable investments into efficient dedusting facilities of our guided sources – i.e. chimneys. We attach great importance to the maintenance and operation of these facilities as to ensure dust is captured in the most optimum manner.
By commissioning a secondary dedusting installation in the steel shop (2004), an investment of 29 million Euros, we took a giant leap in our battle against dust. This specific installation reduced the steel shop’s dust emissions with 95%. More recently we also invested in the expansion of the dust removal on the casting floors at our blast furnaces. This 7,9 million Euros investment was commissioned in 2012.
In order to deal with the diffuse dust emissions, we have launched a dust-reduction plan which lists specific actions that need to be taken throughout the next couple of years.
Particulate matter is an umbrella term for fine dust particles that are small enough to be inhaled. Large-scale epidemiological studies carried out in the US and Europe have revealed the health impact particulate matter might cause. As a consequence, European air quality targets were set in 2000, which came into effect in 2005. Flanders is situated in a part of Europe that is characterised by relatively high dust concentrations. A study conducted by the Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO) showed that 70 to 80% of the measured dust concentrations in Flanders come from elsewhere. Indeed, Flanders is sandwiched between the industrialised areas of Holland, Germany and France. The Ghent’ canal area was found to be one of Flanders’ hot spots. In practice, this means that the quality standards were not always met in the government’s measuring stations in the Ghent’ canal area. Research carried out by VITO shows that our company is responsible for about 15% of the particulate matter pressent in the ambient air. The study furthermore confirms that it is especially the overall diffuse emissions (=not guided through a chimney) that affect the air quality in the vicinity of our company. On the other hand, the impact of guided sources (=chimneys) is negligible. This means that future investments will be aimed especially at controlling dust emissions from diffuse sources.
Dioxins, NOx and SO2 emissions
All other emissions, like for instance NOx, SO2 and dioxins are carefully monitored via an intensive internal measurement program. This allows us to follow up on the production- and purification installations as well as to adjust these when needed. For what concerns the NOx and SO2 emission, we also act proactively by carefully selecting those raw materials that contain a relative low amount of nitrogen (N) and sulphur.