Significant investments required to limit impacts on the environment have been made.
The VMZINC plants have implemented an environmental management system to obtain ISO 14001 certification: Viviez (France) obtained its ISO 14001 certification in 2003 and Auby/Calais (France) in early 2004. Certification for Bray is scheduled early 2005. In addition, VMZINC plants have made huge investments to cut the emissions of dust into the air and zinc into water.
Auby plant (France)
To decrease zinc emission into the air, the Building Products Unit Auby plant invested over € 500 k at the end of 1994. As a result, in 1995, zinc emissions into the air from the rolling mill workshop decreased from 10 to 0.2 mg/m³. In 2004, optimisation of the rolling mill workshop filtration system reduced zinc emissions into the air from 0.2 to below 0.05 mg/m³. Based on the first nine months of 2004, zinc emissions into the air from the rolling mill workshop amounted to about 20 kg.
Likewise, in water management, in 2003, the Building Products Unit Auby plant invested € 1,500 k to convert the rolling mill water cooling system to a closed circuit system. The result of these investments is that water is no longer drawn from the canal, thus saving 280,000 m³ per year.
Viviez plant (France)
To decrease zinc emissions into the air, Viviez invested over € 200 k at the end of 1994. As a result, in 1995, zinc emissions into the air decreased from 75 to 0.4 mg/m³. Since 1994, the Viviez plant has invested an additional € 300 k to improve filtration systems (new slag riddling unit and increase in the flow rate of the filters). These investments have resulted in an even greater reduction in zinc emissions, which already conformed to the regulatory levels in 1994, so that today they are well below the required levels (below 5 mg/m³).
To decrease zinc emissions into water, which are the result not of current industrial activities but of past activities, about € 3000 k has been invested at Viviez since 1986. Spectacular results were achieved following this investment: the level of zinc in the stream dropped from 29 mg/l in 1986 to 1.4 mg/l in 1995, which conformed to the regulatory level (below 2 mg/m³).
Since 1994, the annual running costs for water treatment has been € 600 k, with the result that zinc emissions into the water keep conforming to the regulatory levels.
To manage ground pollution, the Viviez plant has invested € 1000 k since 1998 in measuring and remedying this problem.
To limit energy consumption, the Viviez plant has invested about € 100 k to replace the fuel oil furnaces in the zinc workshop and shipping warehouse, by low temperature radiant heat.
Furthermore, the Viviez plant has made the investments required to improve selective sorting of waste.