ArcelorMittal SA told to reveal pollution plans

“There is no room for secrecy” – SCA.

ArcelorMittal South Africa lost a court appeal to keep secret its environmental plans for an area polluted by the company’s biggest steel-producing plant.

The Supreme Court of Appeal upheld a ruling that Amsa, as the unit of the world’s largest steelmaker is known, must hand over documents detailing its environmental-protection plan for the Vanderbijlpark plant in Gauteng province, according to a copy of the ruling delivered by the court yesterday.

“ArcelorMittal is a major, if not the major, polluter in the areas in which it conducts operations,” the court’s acting Deputy President Mohamed Navsa said in the judgment. “There is no room for secrecy.”

The plan was developed as “an internal document,” Amsa said in an e-mailed statement. It “will study the details of the judgment before responding to the ruling,” it said.

Africa’s biggest steelmaker has spent more than 1 billion rand ($91 million) in the past six years on environmental improvements at plants in South Africa, according to the company. It hasn’t posted an annual profit since 2010 as it struggles with above-inflation increases in power costs, blackouts and weak demand.

The case was brought by the Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance, which said it needed the documents to establish whether a closed dumping site for hazardous waste was sufficiently rehabilitated to pose no risk to the environment, according to the judgment.

©2014 Bloomberg News

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