Rome

Clini insists government has authority over ILVA plant

Steelworks under fire for pollution, health hazards

Clini insists government has authority over ILVA plant

(ANSA) - Rome, September 21 - Environment Minister Corrado Clini Friday maintained that his department has authority over the troubled ILVA steelworks in the southern city of Taranto. But he also said his position creates no conflict with prosecutors who have ordered parts of the plant closed for upgrades. "The authorization for the ILVA plant operation rests with the ministry of environment," said Clini, who added that he would release later this month an "integrated environmental authorization and the company will be required to respect it". Clini insisted that this should not create any conflict with legal authorities: "I know what my job is, and I know that of the judiciary". Clini's comments came as, earlier in the day, ILVA employees protested the start of a court-ordered shutdown of some of its divisions to pave the way for an environmental upgrade. Dozens of workers gathered at ILVA's administration offices to try and fight the shutdown of areas that were seized earlier this year amid accusations of environmental damage. ILVA has for months been at the heart of a major industrial and environmental dispute that fuelled headlines when a court in the port town ordered the shutdown of its smelting facilities and mineral park in July. The court accused ILVA of emanating plumes of toxic dust and other emissions that threaten the health of nearby residents. The partial shutdown sparked worker protests, strikes and a flurry of meetings between government and business leaders to find a way to save the plant, which is considered crucial for Italian industry, and an important source of employment in Italy's underdeveloped south. Meanwhile on Friday, judicial sources leaked reports that magistrates are preparing to turn down the environment-upgrade proposal presented by ILVA management and shareholders earlier this week. Thursday, the court-appointed trustees of the company officially said the measures would not suffice. ILVA earlier this week presented a 400-million-euro remediation plan to the Taranto courthouse that included covering its mineral storage to seal off a major source of toxic dust.

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