ArcelorMittal South Africa Limited's disclosure of environmental non-compliances in annual reports
2008 company reports
The company stated the following in its 2008 Sustainability Report:
Last year we reported on the Green Scorpions’ inspection of the Vereeniging-based Vaal waste disposal site in a joint audit with the inspectorates of DEAT, Gauteng Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Environment (GDACE) and the Sedibeng District Municipality, and the subsequent directive from GDACE to close and rehabilitate the site.
Operations ceased immediately as directed and a revised rehabilitation plan submitted by the set deadline. Full rehabilitation of the site will commence as soon as approval of the plan is granted.
We have removed the bulk of the magnetite ore that was previously stored at the site, having found a market for it in the cement industry. We are confident that the 30 June 2009 deadline set by the authorities for the total removal of the magnetite will be met.
The Green Scorpions conducted a follow-up inspection of the site in April 2008, taking further samples as part of their investigation.1
This report also states:
The following is an update on the audits and site visits that took place in 2008:
- Vanderbijlpark Works: A site visit and audit was conducted by the Green Scorpions in November 2008. We are awaiting their report.
- Saldanha Works: The visit by the Green Scorpions took place in March 2009.
- Newcastle Works: In May 2008, we received the outcome of a September 2007 environmental inspection. The most significant finding was that the Blast Oxygen Furnace slag disposal site is operated without a permit. In our response, we committed to building a new, compliant disposal site. We are still awaiting feedback from the authorities to this proposal.2
It was reported in the 2008 Annual Report that:
[A] special task force was established by ArcelorMittal South Africa in May 2008 to address the many environmental issues experienced in Vanderbijlpark and to prepare for a November 2008 inspection audit by the Green Scorpions. This made a significant contribution towards achieving greater environmental awareness throughout the Works. Simultaneously the company started interactions with local Vanderbijlpark communities as well as NGOs about our environmental legacy.
The Green Scorpions audit took place from 3 – 7 November 2008 and a final report is still awaited.3
The 2008 Sustainability Report also states that:
In a coordinated action in May last year, various environmental NGOs, including the local Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance (VEJA), delivered a memorandum at the ArcelorMittal annual general meeting in Luxembourg. This detailed their concerns relating to air and water pollution.4
2009 company reports
In the 2009 Annual Report non-compliances were reported as follows:
(T)he work done in completing the Vereeniging Works dust extraction unit sets out how we are going about cleaning up our environmental footprint. The project – which was commissioned in the fourth quarter of 2009 and cost in the region of R220 million – is already having a major impact on pollution levels in the area. It achieves legal compliance with one of the major directives emanating from the 2007 inspection by the Green Scorpions at Vereeniging Works. The other directive related to the Vaal Waste Disposal site. This site was closed and all the magnetite removed as directed. We are awaiting final approval of the site’s rehabilitation plan from the Gauteng provincial government.5
The feedback to the Green Scorpions on environmental issues at Vanderbijlpark Works was finalised in May 2009. An analysis of the findings shows that the environmental risk of the Vanderbijlpark Works can be described as moderate.
A Green Scorpions report following on their environmental inspection of Saldanha Works in March 2009 was received in September 2009. The company has asked for further clarifications from the Enforcement Directorate, but to date the potential impact of the findings on our business can be described as moderate.6
And in the 2009 Sustainable Development report:
The Green Scorpions conducted an inspection of Saldanha Works during 2009 and we are already implementing a number of actions emanating from their ﬁndings.7
Our plants are regularly visited by authorities who conduct audits to ensure that we are legally compliant with environmental legislation. The feedback and status on these visits is as follows:
- Vanderbijlpark Works: As reported last year, the plant was inspected by the Green Scorpions in 2008. We have since received an inspection report which outlined several ﬁndings, and have responded accordingly.
- Saldanha Works: A Green Scorpions inspection was conducted at this plant on 10 and 11 March 2009 and the report received in September 2009. We have submitted our response to the initial ﬁndings made.8
The following are also “some of the major incidents” which occurred during the year:
On 2 May 2009, unstable conditions at Saldanha’s Corex plant resulted in the opening of its emergency pressure release valve. The opening is associated with a significant release of dust/fumes and a noise similar to an explosion.
On 26 May 2009, a “burn-through” occurred at the Corex plant in close proximity to the emergency tap hole. The liquid iron and slag that escaped came into contact with water pipes causing explosions that triggered further fire damage. Emissions of steam, dust and fumes were visible.
On 28 May 2009 the bleeder of blast furnace C at Vanderbijlpark Works opened due to high-pressure conditions. The unstable conditions resulted in a fire at the furnace’s hydraulic room causing the furnace to be taken out of operation. The incident also caused excessive dust and fume emissions.9
2010 company reports
In the 2010 Annual Report the following information was recorded:
“(T)here were no serious findings from the various audits and site visits conducted by the environmental authorities. The report resulting from a Green Scorpion inspection conducted during August 2010 at Vanderbijlpark Works is not yet available. There were no significant environmental spills during the year and we were not issued with any fines or non-monetary sanctions for non-compliance with environmental laws and regulations. One incident was reported to the authorities in October 2010 in terms of section 30 of the National Environmental Management Act as a result of the uncontrolled release of emissions to atmosphere during an emergency situation at our Pretoria Works coke battery.10
Our production facilities are regularly visited by government environmental authorities and external standards organisations for site visit and audit purposes. The following summarises those visits conducted during the year:
- Vereeniging Works: the Green Scorpions visited this site in July 2010 to conduct a follow-up inspection on the back of the directives issued to the company regarding air emissions and the closure of the Vaal Waste Disposal site. We have complied with both directives and await ofﬁcial feedback on the visit.
- Vanderbijlpark Works: the Green Scorpions conducted a full site inspection in August 2010. A full inspection was conducted in November 2008 and while we responded to the ﬁndings, the report was never closed. The Green Scorpions indicated their intention to withdraw the original report due to the time lapsed and the fact that they had since employed new personnel who were unfamiliar with the site. This paved the way for the latest inspection. The report ﬁndings have not been issued yet.”11
2011 company reports
In the 2011 Annual Report it was stated that:
Ofﬁcial inspections conducted at our Newcastle Works and Pretoria Works by environmental management inspectors (Green Scorpions).12
(In a table, “feedback and actions” are then displayed, but it is not clear which feedback or actions relate to the official inspection).
Environmental incidents were also reported on within the 2011 Sustainable Development report:
On 29 July 2011, a pipeline conveying effluent from the Cold Mills to the CETP was damaged by a contractor. The pipeline was under pressure and the spill could not immediately be contained. The effluent in the line contained Cr (III and VI) and Sn compounds, which potentially pose a risk to the environment. Due to the significant soil pollution that occurred over a large area of up to 700 m2, the incident was reported in terms of section 30 of the National Environmental Management Act No 107 of 1998 to the relevant authority.
By the third quarter of 2011, it became apparent that the Vanderbijlpark Works water treatment facility was no longer able to consistently maintain ZED standards, and plans were drawn up for necessary upgrades.13
The following information (although not under the heading of ‘environmental incidents’) also appeared in the 2011 Sustainability Report:
Fugitive particulate emissions from our steel-making facilities at Vanderbijlpark and Saldanha Works have caught the attention of our stakeholders during 2011, and we are investigating possible solutions to such emissions.
The tar distillation plant located at Vanderbijlpark has high VOC emissions (many are of a fugitive nature) and an action plan will be drawn up in 2012 to reduce such emissions.14
During the year, Pretoria Works experienced an increase in sulphate and chloride levels in its discharged effluent, due to high leachate volumes from the slag disposal sites. This was reported to the authorities. An internal investigation suggests the problem was caused by the excessively high rainfall in 2010 and 2011, which exposed slag reclamation areas. Towards the end of 2011, leaking municipal water pipes on the hill above the slag reclamation areas were detected, which could have added to the leachate problem. This situation is being monitored, as these events are unprecedented and never occur during the dry seasons.15
This report also noted:
The Green Scorpions (Environmental Management Inspectorate) inspected the Newcastle plant in February 2011 – that report is not yet issued. This agency also inspected the Mooiplaats waste disposal site near Pretoria in August 2011, but we do not anticipate negative findings. The report resulting from a Green Scorpion inspection conducted during August 2010 at Vanderbijlpark Works is not yet available. We were not issued with any fines or non-monetary sanctions for non-compliance with environmental laws and regulations during 2011.16
2012 company reports
In the 2012 Annual Report the following information was recorded:
In October a compliance notice was issued by the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD) to Vanderbijlpark to cease operations of the electric arc furnaces, coke batteries, sinter plant and foundry, based on ﬁndings of non-compliance with the atmospheric emission licence conditions. GDARD withdrew the compliance notice at the end of February 2013 based on its ﬁndings that Vanderbijlpark had shown sufﬁcient evidence of its compliance with the licence conditions that it was allegedly breaching.17
In the 2012 Sustainability Report the following is stated:
Fugitive emissions at Vanderbijlpark and Saldanha Works were reported on in the previous integrated report and local community stakeholders raised the issue of visible sinter stack and electric arc furnace roof emissions at Vanderbijlpark Works during the year…
Our Saldanha Works received complaints about windblown dust emissions from the stockyard and other facilities. Plans are in place to optimise and expand watering systems during 2013. Other complaints related to corex cast house fugitive emissions, meltshop roof emissions and dust from raw materials storage where further work is required. We investigate all such complaints as a matter of policy and provided feedback on these findings to our stakeholder communities.18
We also reported increased sulphate and chloride levels from our Pretoria Works during the previous financial year. Initial indications pointed to a higher-than average rainfall as the cause of the problem while further investigations revealed that leaking municipal pipes had also contributed to the sulphate and chloride spikes in the run-off from slag storage areas. Some pipes were repaired during the year and ongoing measurements indicate that the situation is improving. We will however, continue to monitor the situation and respond should the problem reoccur.19
2013 company reports
In the 2013 Sustainability Report the following statement was made, which was repeated in the 2013 Annual Report:
A site audit conducted by the Green Scorpions at Vanderbijlpark Works during the year highlighted some areas of concern regarding air emissions. We also received some community complaints about fugitive emissions, mainly at Saldanha Works. We continue to investigate a range of projects to reduce air emissions. The need to implement these projects is necessarily balanced by the capital available to do so, and such projects will only be reported on as and when capital expenditure to implement them is approved.20
The following was also reported in the 2013 Annual Report:
In 2013, we initiated the application process for our Atmospheric Emission Licences, which remain to be issued for Saldanha, Newcastle and our operations at Pretoria Works. Negotiations are currently underway regarding these authorisations, but it is a general area of concern that authorities may implement stricter standards than those prescribed in the Air Quality Act.21
The company also noted the following in its 2013 Sustainability Report:
Unstable operations at our Vanderbijlpark Works have placed tremendous pressure on our water treatment facilities and on 21 November 2013 a discharge of effluent occurred. The discharge was contained within 10 hours to restore ZED status and the Department of Water Affairs was informed about the situation as per the Water Use Licence requirements.22
2014 company reports
The company stated the following in its 2014 Annual Report:
Regrettably, Vanderbijlpark lost its ZED status after repeated discharges of process water into the stormwater collection system and water treatment capacity constraints during the year. This status was subsequently reinstated. An amount of R90 million was approved for effecting remedies with preliminary projections indicating that Vanderbijlpark’s ZED status could be sustained during 2015.
In February 2014 a leak of hydrochloric acid into the Leeuwspruit was detected at our Vanderbijlpark Works. The incident was promptly and fully reported to the authorities, all water discharges being immediately blocked and the affected stream thoroughly flushed with clarified Vaal Dam water. This incident was also investigated by the Green Scorpions, who made no further findings relating to the incident.23
Newcastle Works received a pre-compliance notice from the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA). This notice relates not only to atmospheric emissions but also to water and stormwater management as well as waste management and alleged soil and groundwater pollution.
Vereeniging Works received a Green Scorpions inspection report from the DEA relating to similar issues. In addition, a pre-compliance notice was issued to Vereeniging Works by the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in November 2014, which report related mostly to minor dust and spillage issues.
In later 2014 the company received notification from the South African Human Rights Commission that an investigation had been launched regarding the ‘gross violation of environmental laws and human rights by ArcelorMittal’s operations in Vanderbijlpark’. This investigation was launched following the submission of a report, ‘Steel at any cost’ by the Bench Marks Foundation to the commission. A response was submitted in December. Discussions with the commission on their investigation were ongoing in early 2015.24
In June 2015, AMSA published the ‘External audit report in fulfilment of the waste management license for the decommissioning and remediation of the Klip waste site at Arcelormittal Vereeniging Works’, which included the following findings:
Monitoring is not undertaken at all of the required boreholes as some of the boreholes have been damaged and are blocked…
At the time of the audit it was reported that monitoring of organic elements commenced in 2014, however TOC was not monitored in the third quarter (November) of the 2014 reporting period. The sampling and analysis must be re-assessed in terms of the license and the required elements be monitored as required until an agreement is reached with the authorities to amend the condition…
No gas monitoring is undertaken as required. An amendment application was submitted to remove this requirement, however until the amendment has been approved the condition is still in force. Monitoring should therefore proceed as required until the request is formally approved by the Department (WMCO, July 2015).25
- ArcelorMittal Sustainability Report 2008, at p18, available at: http://www.arcelormittalsa.com/InvestorRelations/2008/sustainability/downloads/mittal_sr_2008.pdf
- ArcelorMittal Sustainability Report 2008, at p25, available at: http://www.arcelormittalsa.com/InvestorRelations/2008/sustainability/downloads/mittal_sr_2008.pdf
- ArcelorMittal Annual Report 2008, at p26, available at: http://www.arcelormittalsa.com/InvestorRelations/2008/annual/downloads/mittal_ar_2008.pdf
- ArcelorMittal Sustainability Report 2008, at p16, available at: http://www.arcelormittalsa.com/InvestorRelations/2008/sustainability/downloads/mittal_sr_2008.pdf
- ArcelorMittal Annual Report 2009, at p17, available at: http://www.arcelormittalsa.com/MittalAr09/pdf/ArcelorMittalMainAR.pdf
- ArcelorMittal Annual Report 2009, at p29, available at: http://www.arcelormittalsa.com/MittalAr09/pdf/ArcelorMittalMainAR.pdf
- ArcelorMittal Sustainability Report 2009, at p9, available at: http://www.arcelormittalsa.com/UploadedFiles/ContentFiles/2009SustainablityReport.pdf
- ArcelorMittal Sustainability Report 2009, at p58, available at: http://www.arcelormittalsa.com/UploadedFiles/ContentFiles/2009SustainablityReport.pdf
- ArcelorMittal Sustainability Report, at p48, available at: http://arcelormittalsa.com/UploadedFiles/ContentFiles/2009SustainablityReport.pdf
- ArcelorMittal Annual Report 2010, at p72, available at: http://www.arcelormittalsa.com/Portals/0/ArcelorMittal_full_Lo-res2.pdf
- ArcelorMittal Annual Report 2010, at p75, available at: http://www.arcelormittalsa.com/Portals/0/ArcelorMittal_full_Lo-res2.pdf
- ArcelorMittal Integrated Annual Report 2011, at p11, available at: http://www.arcelormittal-reports.com/reports/ar_2011/pdf/full.pdf
- ArcelorMittal Sustainability Report 2011, at p23, available at: http://arcelormittalsa.com/Portals/0/Sustaintability%202011.pdf
- ArcelorMittal Sustainability Report 2011, at p24, available at: http://www.arcelormittalsa.com/Portals/0/Sustaintability%202011.pdf
- ArcelorMittal Sustainability Report 2011, at p25, available at: http://www.arcelormittalsa.com/Portals/0/Sustaintability%202011.pdf
- ArcelorMittal Sustainability Report 2011, at p22, available at: http://www.arcelormittalsa.com/Portals/0/Sustaintability%202011.pdf
- ArcelorMittal Integrated Annual Report 2012, at p16, available at: http://www.arcelormittal-reports.com/reports/ar_2012/integrated/pdf/full.pdf
- ArcelorMittal Sustainability Report 2012, at p39, available at: http://www.arcelormittalsa.com/Portals/0/Sustainability%20report%202012.pdf
- ArcelorMittal Sustainability Report, at p40, available at: http://www.arcelormittalsa.com/Portals/0/Sustainability%20report%202012.pdf
- ArcelorMittal Sustainability Report 2013, at p54, available at: http://www.arcelormittalsa.com/Portals/0/0ndiu0ye_compressPdf.pdf
- ArcelorMittal Integrated Annual Report 2009, at p64, available at: http://www.arcelormittal-reports.com/reports/ar_2013/integrated/pdf/full.pdf
- ArcelorMittal Sustainability Report 2013, at p55, available at: http://www.arcelormittalsa.com/AMittal_Sustainability_Lo_Fixed.pdf
- ArcelorMittal Integrated Annual Report 2014, at p55, available at: http://annualreport.arcelormittalsa.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/ArcelorMittal-2014-IAR.pdf
- ArcelorMittal Integrated Annual Report 2014, at p55, available at: http://annualreport.arcelormittalsa.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/ArcelorMittal-2014-IAR.pdf
- External Audit Report in fulfilment of the waste management licence for the decommissioning and remediation of the Klip waste site at ArcelorMittal Vereeniging Works, at p3, available at: http://www.arcelormittalsa.com/Portals/0/Klip%20Waste%20Site_External%20audit%20report_2015%20Final.pdf at p3