“Green” initiative to release tons of environmental toxins in Swedish city

The exaggerated climate crisis

Published 5 July 2024
- By Editorial Staff
The factory outside Eskilstuna, as Shenzhen Senior presented it to the public.

The industrial investment in Eskilstuna, focused on the production of separator film for electric car battery manufacturers, is being called a “green investment”. In practice, however, the supposed climate initiative means that 900 tons of the harmful and banned chemical methylene chloride will be released into the city each year.

– It feels like you can do almost anything by virtue of green transition, says Åke Bergman, professor emeritus of environmental chemistry at Stockholm University.

In Sivsta, outside the city, the Chinese company Shenzhen Senior Material is preparing to start producing separator film for Northvolt and other electric car battery manufacturers. The initiative, which will be a so-called “green transition” has been called an “industrial turnaround” by the city’s chairman, Jimmy Jansson (S).

However, the company’s separator film is made with the chemical methyl chloride, reports Dagens Arbete. The chemical is so toxic that direct inhalation can cause death and the substance can eventually lead to cancer, birth defects, dementia and nerve damage. The substance has been banned in Sweden since 1996, but companies can apply for an exemption from the Swedish Chemicals Agency (Kemikalieinspektionen). However, its use has decreased significantly from 427 tons to 10 tons in 2022.

Shenzhen Senior Material applied for an exemption as early as 2021 and received approval from the Swedish Chemicals Agency, which in practice means that it can use 2,770 tons of methylene chloride over two years, which is 267 times more than what was used in Sweden the previous year.

–  These are remarkable amounts, says Åke Bergman, senior professor at Örebro University and professor emeritus of environmental chemistry at Stockholm University. It feels like you can do almost anything by virtue of green transition. And that worries me.

Not informing the neighbors

The Eskilstuna Environmental Office (Eskilstunas miljökontor) and the Sörmland County Administrative Board (Länsstyrelsen Sörmland) questioned the levels of toxins, and the environmental assessment delegation felt that the neighbors had not been informed of the emissions and wanted to stop the company. However, the Land and Environmental Court (Mark- och miljödomstolen) approved the use.

In total, the company has a permit to discharge 900 tons of the toxic chemical per year for two years, an amount Bergman considers “bad”.

– I don’t want to see leaks that big. It’s especially strange that you can’t close the system better than 900 tons leaking out. That is bad.

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