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The European Environment Agency published an interesting study recently. It puts a price on the damage caused by air pollution from power stations and industrial plants in the European Union. Most interestingly, the cost of damage is broken down on a facility-by-facility basis, writes Stephen Gardner.

The worst damages are caused by elderly coal-fired power stations in Bulgaria, Germany, Poland, and the United Kingdom. However, the top-polluting industrial plant is the ArcelorMittal steel processing plant at Grand-Synthe, Dunkirk, northern France, which will be familiar to anyone who ever drives from Brussels to Calais or Boulogne.

The Grand-Synthe plant caused between €421 million and €595 million in environmental and health damages in 2009, according to the EEA.

Here are some more interesting ArcelorMittal figures:

Net income 2010: $2.9 billion

Profits in 2009 of group company Arcelor Mittal Finance and Services Belgium: €1.3 billion

Tax paid in 2009 by Arcelor Mittal Finance and Services Belgium: €496 (not a typo)

Profits in 2010 of group company Arcelor Mittal Finance and Services Belgium: €1.4 billion

Tax paid in 2010 by Arcelor Mittal Finance and Services Belgium: €0

Value of banked carbon credits given to ArcelorMittal for free under the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS): €1 billion (approximately, depending on the market)

Fine for price fixing imposed by European Commission on ArcelorMittal in 2010: €230.4 million

Reduced amount of fine after Commission admitted "the [ArcelorMittal] subsidiaries could not pay this fine and the parent company would not pay it": €45.7 million

Personal wealth of ArcelorMittal CEO Lakshmi Mittal (from the Sunday Times Rich List): £17.5 billion (€20.5 billion)

The only reasonable conclusion to draw from this, in respect of the environmental and health damage caused by the Grand-Synthe plant in 2009 is: SEND THEM THE BILL! The ETS has failed disastrously to create an incentive for ArcelorMittal to reduce the environmental damage it does; in fact it has only provided them with a scandalous windfall. A bill for the damage done would provide the direct incentive ArcelorMittal needs.

For more on ArcelorMittal, click here.

A version of this article appeared on EUObserver blogs.

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