Wales

Tata Steel Port Talbot dust 'to be cut by three-quarters'

Words Tata Steel written in dust on external window sill at Port Talbot home of Peter Davies Image copyright Peter Davies
Image caption The firm had been issued with an enforcement order in 2013 following previous complaints

Tata Steel has pledged to cut dust emissions which have plagued residents near its Port Talbot plant by three-quarters with a new extraction system.

Last summer, people living nearby claimed black dust had never been so bad, leaving their homes filthy.

Graffiti artist Banksy has highlighted the issue of pollution in the artwork he painted on a garage in Port Talbot.

Plans for a new chimney stack, pipes and ducting to replace a 40-year-old system have been backed by councillors.

The project will replace the secondary dust extraction system for the sinter plant, where iron ore is heated with lime and sand before going into the blast furnace.

Neath Port Talbot councillors unanimously backed the application on Tuesday, the Local Democracy Reporting Service reported.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption With around 4,000 workers, Tata Steel is key to the health of the Port Talbot economy

Planning committee chairman Suzanne Paddison said: "There's nothing I would like to approve more than this.

"The people who live in the area do suffer greatly from dust, anything that can reduce that is to be welcomed."

Scott Bamsey, a councillor who works at the plant, said: "Tata got a lot of flack during the summer for quite a poor performance.

"This large investment shows not only that they're committed to improving its environmental impact but also to its future in Port Talbot with continued investment in the plant."

Councillor Rhidian Mizen added: "I worked in a sinter plant for a couple of years, anything that improves the air quality for employees and residents living nearby gets my full backing."

Planning officers told councillors the new system would cut emissions in the air from 40mg of dust per cubic metre to 10mg.

They added that the new system would be tested over a period of nine months before the old chimney stack was demolished.

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