Rome

ILVA prosecutors enforcing shutdown orders over protests

Parts of steelworks closed amid health, environment violations

ILVA prosecutors enforcing shutdown orders over protests

(ANSA) - Rome, September 27 - Prosecutors said Thursday that they will continue to enforce a judge's orders to close parts of the ILVA steelworks despite protests from workers there. Taranto prosecutor Franco Sebastio said he did not know what the next move might be from the owners of the troubled plant, Europe's largest steelworks, but it would not stop his work. "I do not know what kind of appeals ILVA will decide to present," said Sebastio, who succeeded in convincing Taranto judge Patrizia Todisco that ILVA's proposal for the immediate remediation of its plant was inadequate to address the environmental disaster at stake. "If there are no changes...procedures will go ahead," added Sebastio. Todisco also ruled against ILVA's request to keep the steel plant operating during the cleanup. "The goods in question - health, life and environment, and even the right to dignified work without compromising the health of a human being - do not permit bargaining," she said in Wednesday's decision. Meanwhile, workers at the ILVA plant - which employs about 12,000 people in this struggling part of southern Italy - continued to rally Thursday in support of the plant. Some began a two-day strike to protest the gradual closure of the mill, which began this week. "Stopping production means destroying workers' hopes and future. We must find common ground between respecting the environment and citizens' right to health and work," the FIM and UILM unions said in a joint statement. Police tried Thursday to keep the protesting workers separate from other Taranto residents who are calling for strong measures to force ILVA to make serious improvements to the plant, which for years has emitted toxic substances linked to heightened cancer risks in the area. They also want ILVA to completely clean up environmental damage it has caused. At the same time Environment Minister Corrado Clini said he expects to receive by Friday the report of European Union experts who are now assessing whether to grant ILVA an environmental clearance.

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