Ilva plant, 2007 Image by Alberto Vaccaro via under

Production can continue at Ilva plant despite high pollution levels

By Region Environment News Southern Italy

Production at the Ilva steel plant in the southern city of Taranto can continue Italy’s top administrative court ruled.

Once the largest steel producer in Europe, the Ilva plant emitted a lethal cocktail of carcinogenic dioxins and mineral particles for more than half a century. Doctors say this long-.term pollution caused a surge in cancer rates in the city of Taranto.

However, the Council of State court said in a statement the Taranto city order calling on the plant to be shut down due to high air pollution levels was illegitimate “in the absence of the conditions of necessity and urgency”.

The judges added the city order “overlapped the ways in which, ordinarily, situations of environmental pollution and health risk are managed”.

Jobs at risk versus locals’ health

Lawyers for ArcelorMittal (MT.LU), which controls Ilva, appealed the city order. They claimed a shutdown would permanently damage the facilities and put jobs at risk. Taranto is home to most of Ilva’s 10,700 Italian workers.

In 2015, the government took control and reached a deal to sell the plant to ArcelorMittal in 2018. However, the sale is being renegotiated. It is likely the state will become the main shareholder due to the ongoing environmental concerns.

Industry Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti said after the ruling, “The government will go ahead swiftly with an industrial plan that is environmentally compatible and respects people’s health”.

The former owners of the Ilva steelworks, Fabio and Nicola Riva, recently received 22 and 20 years in jail respectively. This was for allowing the factory to emit lethal pollution. The sentence was by a different court, last month.

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