Vaal Communities Demand Transparency from Polluter ArcelorMittal at its Shareholder Meeting

30 June 2020 - Africa’s giant steel producer and serial polluter ArcelorMittal South Africa, today holds its AGM (Annual General Meeting) and Environmental justice organisations VEJA (Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance) and the LAC (Life After Coal) coalition will confront AMSA on their environmental transgressions, lack of transparency and community consultation at its Vanderbijlpark operation.

The online action comes only a few weeks after the company was ordered to pay R3.6 million relating to charges of exceeding hydrogen sulphide minimum emissions standards at its coke plant in Vanderbijlpark. The plant was found guilty of exceeding permissible emission levels.

For many years AMSA has refused to disclose environmental plans to reduce their pollution to communities until 2014, when the Centre for Environmental Rights, acting on behalf of VEJA took successful legal action and the Supreme Court of Appeal forced ArcelorMittal to release the information.  Despite the court’s damning ruling – and AMSA’s undertakings to be more open and transparent going forward, AMSA’s environmental information has not been made readily accessible.

Their Vanderbijlpark plant is not an isolated case in their dirty operations. Sereti mine in Newcastle has also faced tough resistance from surrounding communities as a result of water pollution, air pollution, and failure to substantially engage with community members. 

AMSA’s operations cause detrimental environmental pollution resulting in harm to surrounding communities and violates various environmental laws. The government’s annual National Environmental Compliance Reports have repeatedly listed AMSA for numerous environmental transgressions at its Vanderbijlpark Works, including the period between 2009-2019.

While the recent fine relates to their 2016 operations, AMSA has over the years maintained a steady reputation as environmental criminals through water abstraction and pollution, land contamination, air pollution, all complemented by lack of transparency and refusal to invest in sustainable solutions. 

Communities living in the VTAPA have long suffered the effects of air pollution in the area and have been vocal about the harmful impact of air and other pollution on their health,  wellbeing, and the infringement of their constitutional right to a healthy environment. Today they say enough is enough, 

We want ArcelorMittal to comply with the supreme court decision made 2014 that they must be transparent and disclose information to the community on how they plan to improve air quality around our communities where they operate”.  Samson Mokoena from VEJA. 

FURTHER INFORMATION:
 AMSA 2019 Factsheet
https://mg.co.za/article/2019-06-04-arcelormittal-facing-criminal-charges-for-alleged-breach-of-pollution-licence
https://arcelormittalsa.com/Sustainability/Maintainingourlicencetooperate/MandatoryAuditReports.aspx
CONTACTS:  
Samson Mokwena: 084 291 8510 / 016 931 2653; samsonm@veja.org.za;
Mduduzi Tshabalala: 061 355 9614, mdudazdmshengu@gmail.com;
Tsepang Molefe:  074 405 1257; media@groundwork.org.za