Mood of 20th Steel Day anniversary event turns somber amid local governments’ order to suspend operation of furnaces for violation of environment laws
CEOs of member companies of Korea Iron & Steel Association (KOSA) attend a ceremony to celebrate the 20th Steel Day at POSCO Center in Daechi-dong, Seoul, on June 4. They are Dongbu Steel President Kim Chang-soo, TCC Steel Chairman Sohn Bong-rak, Hyundai Steel President Ahn Dong-il, POSCO Chairman Choi Jeong-woo, concurrently KOSA chairman, Vice Minister Chung Seung-il of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE), Dongkuk Steel Vice Chairman Chang Se-wook, SeAh Steel Vice Chairman Lee Hwi-ryong, Vice Chairman Lee Tae-joon of Kiswire, and KOSA Standing Vice Chairman Lee Min-chul. (Photo: KOSA)
Korea Iron & Steel Association (KOSA) held a ceremony to celebrate the 20th Steel Day at POSCO Center in Daechi-dong, Seoul, on June 4.
The mood of the anniversary event was heavy amid local governments’ issuance of orders to suspend the operation of furnaces for discharging air pollutants without permission.
The 20th anniversary event was advanced to June 4 from June 9, which fell on Sunday. Since 2000, the Korea Iron & Steel Association has been celebrating Steel Day on June 9, the date on which the first molten iron was produced by a modern furnace in Korea, with various events including a commemorative ceremony, marathon and steel photo exhibitions to promote the importance of the steel industry to the public, and also inspire unity and pride within the steel industry.
The Chungcheongnam-do provincial government ordered a 10-day halt in the operation of the second furnace of Dangjin Steelworks of Hyundai Steel for opening the bleeder valve for safety, emitting air pollutants. Earlier, Gyeongsangbuk-do and Jeollabuk-do provincial government issued similar orders over the second furnace of Pohang Steelworks and the second furnace of Gwangyang Steel Works.
In a speech at the anniversary event, KOSA Chairman Choi Jeong-woo, concurrently POSCO chairman, said, “Amid demand for the steel industry to improve its environment situation since fine dust has emerged as a chronic social issue along with trade conflicts, the steel industry has already announced plans to invest 1.5 trillion won for the installation of air pollution prevention facilities by 2021 in accordance with government policies to reduce fine dust.”
The steel industry will make every effort to take preemptive steps by building advanced environment management systems and improving such activities, departing from the conventional method of following environment regulation levels, he added.
KOSA Chairman Choi stressed the need for publicizing the fact that steel is one of the most eco-friendly materials in the course of the whole process of feeding raw materials, producing products, using and scrapping them.
President Ahn Do-ho of KOSTEEL was honored with the coveted Order of Industrial Service Merit, Silver Tower for ensuring a stable supply of good-quality steel wire rod mild (SWRM) in cooperation of Korean steelmakers, contributing to substituting for imports and stabilizing the domestic market.
Chung Song-muk, general manager of POSCO was presented with the Order of Industrial Service Merit, Bronze Tower for developing a technology to predict the operation of furnaces and automatically control them using AI-enabled deep learning algorism while Lee Bang-sup, head of a trade union with Hwanyoung Steel Ind. was s awarded with the Industrial Service Medal for overhauling unfair labor-management practices and establishing an advanced labor-management culture.
The prize winners were among 29 people who received a variety of orders and government prizes during the anniversary event. Hyundai Steel President Ahn Dong-il told reporters on the sideline of the event that only Korea is taking issue with opening a bleeder valve to maintain a furnace even though steelworks at advanced countries such as the United States, European states and Japan do.
A controversy over amounts of air pollutants being emitted during the process has also flared up. In the case of opening the bleeder valve for one hour, air pollutants such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide are discharged for the first five minutes, and most of the discharges are steam during the remainder. President Ahn said there is no alternative other than opening the bleeder valve to repair a furnace, he noted.
Local administrative bodies maintain that it is illegal to open a bleeder valve without permission sans air pollution prevention facilities under the law.