Tata apologises after black 'smoke' seen rising over Port Talbot steelworks
STEEL giant Tata has apologised to residents after a black plume was seen rising over its Port Talbot works.
Evening Post reader Margaret Davies took pictures of what looked like a cloud of smoke rising from the new Blast Furnace No 4 early yesterday morning.
"Is this the sort of pollution we will have to put up with from the furnace?" she asked.
"Today is a clear day but imagine what it would be like when — not if — it happens on a low, cloudy day."
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A Tata spokesman said: "We have to hold our hands up and apologise to the local community for this unusual, unsightly release.
"They are rare nowadays. Any emissions exceedance will be picked up by our air quality monitoring stations both inside the works site, and also the local authority facilities.
"The release is a standard response to a build-up of pressure within the furnace and is carefully managed by a valve system."
Tata spent £185 million rebuilding the furnace, which finally went into production earlier this year.
"It is actually working very well indeed," said the spokesman. "It is producing at a rate of more than 40,000 tonnes a week, or 6,000 tonnes a day, and, despite this incident, the safety and environmental management systems are functioning well.
"The works is in full production again, which is great news for employees, the economy and the community.
"However, this is a downside of that and we do everything possible to avoid releases like this and minimise the impact."
Aberavon councillor Anthony Taylor said: "We generally have a very good relationship with the management of the steelworks and with the Environment Agency, who work with the local authority to minimise incidents like this.
"It is an isolated incident but one that concerns us, and we will raise it with management, just to check that things are okay on an ongoing basis."
Ward colleague John Rogers added: "There has been a noticeable change of culture since Tata took over.
"People there will put their hand up when something like this happens. A number of years ago we would have been arguing for weeks about whose fault it was.
"But it is something we will have to keep an eye on."