This afternoon there was a big fire at Tata Steel in IJmuiden. Local residents saw huge clouds of smoke hanging over the company and the village. According to the Kennemerland Safety Region, it was a major fire that started at a conveyor belt. The fire brigade does not know whether hazardous substances have been released, but according to a spokesman for Tata, ‘it seems not’.
The company announced via Twitter that a fire broke out at a conveyor belt for coal ‘due to unknown causes’. There are no known victims. The company’s steel production has not been interrupted, according to the report. “The fire started at a coal conveyor, in principle no hazardous substances should have been released there, but you never quite know exactly what went up in the flames,” says a Tata spokesman. He cannot say anything about the cause of the fire yet.
Meanwhile, the thick black clouds have disappeared. “The fire seems to have been extinguished,” said one of the local residents. “But no one had been warned. The shock is good. We are waiting for a major disaster here. ”
The conveyor belt is part of a tower, said a spokesman for the fire service. Part of the band was outside, another part inside, and both outside and inside the tower the band was on fire. Coal lay on the conveyor belt. The combination of all this created a lot of smoke.
The fire service had to scale up to ‘major fire’. Local residents were advised to keep windows and doors closed and to stay out of the smoke. There is unrest among many residents of the steel company because initially little was communicated about the fire. “This gives an enormous Enschede feeling”, one of them says, referring to the fireworks disaster in Enschede. It also started with a fire and was followed by a devastating explosion.
The spokesperson for Tata says that it is up to the Safety Region to raise the alarm if necessary. “We informed everyone via twitter and newsletters as soon as we knew some facts.”
Residents of the company – recently a criminal case against Tata Steel started – were not warned that a fire was raging. “This is one of the reasons why we started that case,” says lawyer Bénédicte Ficq, who assists local residents. “This looks very scary. You have a duty to warn the environment so that everyone can bring themselves and children to safety. The company fails to do so with every incident. Now the local residents had to see from the smoke that something was wrong. Very anxious. ”
Ficq wants to take the company to a criminal court on behalf of various parties and hundreds of local residents, because it would deliberately ‘introduce substances into the soil, air or surface water’ that are a danger to public health. A criminal offense that carries twelve years in prison.