KYIV, Aug 12 – ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine’s largest steel company, has agreed to invest $1.8 billion over the next five years to reduce pollutions by 55%, the company reported Monday.
The decision comes following weeks of criticism from President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who has complained the company may have been responsible for seriously worsening health problems in the region.
Zelenskiy, who was born and raised in Kryvyi Rih, suggested the high cancer rate and other health issues in the region may have been caused by heavy industrial pollutions.
Following the criticism, Ukraine’s SBU security service launched an investigation and on July 20 had shut down $150 million project of commissioning continuous casting machine No. 3 and No. 2.
Now, with the leadership of ArcelorMittal accepting the plan to modernize facilities and reduce pollutions, the company will be able to go ahead with the continuous casting machine projects, a source at the company said.
The detailed plan of actions was formalized following a recent meeting between company managers and officials from Zelenskiy’s office. The plan includes five steps to continue major modernization and other social and health initiatives.
The plan calls for investment of $1.8 billion to reduce pollutions by 55% over five years, but immediate measures, specifically requested by Zelenskiy, are supposed to cut the pollutions by 10-15% within the next 12 months, the source said.
The money will be spent on agglomerating production, which makes up about two thirds of the whole amount of pollutions, and will upgrade the sintering workshop No.2 and the pelletizing factory.
ArcelorMittal is one of the biggest foreign investors in Ukraine, investing $9.2 billion in the country since 2005.
Zelenskiy also urged the company to pay monetary compensation to people suffering from the pollutions, but no detailed have been released.
ArcelorMittal will also engage the government of Ukraine in an active work under corporate social responsibility programs meant to improve the conditions of prevention, treatment of the citizens, development of the medical services sector in Kryvyi Rih.
The company backed Zelenskiy’s idea to establish Health Fund in the city jointly with the other enterprises of the region. Assets from the fund will be invested in the development of medical facilities of the city. ArcelorMittal said it will immediately invest UAH 100 million into the fund and become a member.
ArcelorMittal will also invest UAH 50 million to reconstruct Metallurg soccer stadium within the next two years. (tl/ez)