Ministry not 'keeping secrets' regarding ILVA

Data still not complete, says Clini

Ministry not 'keeping secrets' regarding ILVA

(ANSA) - Rome, September 20 - Environment Minister Corrado Clini said on Thursday that his department is in no way "hiding information or keeping secrets" regarding the environmental risks of the ILVA steel plant, as a new study showed higher mortality rates for residents nearby. "The only thing that is clear is that there are some who are manipulating incomplete data to create pressure on the authorities and citizens," the minister said. Italian steelworks ILVA, which is being investigated for serious environmental violations, are working on identifying the required upgrades the company needs to carry out to comply with environmental laws. Clini's comments on Thursday came at the same time a new study concluded residents of the community in southern Italy face a heightened risk of death. A report by the Italian Association of Epidemology generated from court data said on Thursday that the general mortality rate in Taranto was 8-27% higher than the national average, malignant tumours 5-42% more common, cardiovascular diseases 10-28% more frequent and respiratory illnesses 8-64% higher. This would seem to support criticisms that for years, the ILVA steel plant - one of Europe's largest - has emitted toxic pollution into the community's environment. That was the justification used by prosecutors in July to shut down parts of the plant and order expensive upgrades - a move that the Italian government, the company, and unions at the plant have been fiercely fighting. On Wednesday, Clini announced that his ministry would file a lawsuit against Green Party President Angelo Bonelli for slander and for spreading "false information creating general panic". Bonelli said on Thursday that he was not "in the least bit worried" and that he would not be "intimidated". Clini has promised 90 million euro in public funds for the ILVA cleanup and more for the region of Puglia, where it is based. More money could be available for ILVA from the European Union through funds for community projects, Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani said Tuesday in an interview with Radio RAI.

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