Rome

ILVA submits steelworks clean-up plan, pleads to keep active

'Closing plant not on the cards' says environment minister

ILVA submits steelworks clean-up plan, pleads to keep active

(ANSA) - Rome, September 18 - The president of the ILVA steelworks in Taranto on Tuesday submitted the company's plan to clean up the portions of the mill seized for longstanding environmental and health violations and asked that they be kept active. "We hope that the plan and the request are received positively by prosecutors and judges," said ILVA President Bruno Ferrante. Prosecutors on Friday ordered the troubled steelworks to scale back production this week while the company upgrades its facilities. Environment Minister Corrado Clini said Monday his department is willing to participate in a civil trial to assess responsibility for the pollution, but Tuesday insisted "we are not embarking upon closing the plant, but upon a path towards rehabilitating it". Recent data from Italy's Institute of Health show the area around the steel plant had a mortality rate that was 10% higher than would be expected in the area around Taranto. Prosecutors in July ordered to shut down parts of the steel plant - one of Europe's largest - and to implement expensive upgrades, a move that the Italian government, the company and unions at the plant have been fiercely fighting. "I can't imagine ILVA closing," said Interior Minister Annamaria Cancellieri on Tuesday. "If that happens, it would mean closing down half of the country. The problem is being seriously addressed, with guaranteeing employment in mind".

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