Taranto, November 26 - Seven people were arrested on Monday for alleged corruption related to an environmental scandal at the troubled ILVA plant in the southern city of Taranto, including Fabio Riva, the vice president of parent company Riva. The seven are suspected of criminal association, causing an environmental disaster and corruption. The arrests reportedly regard allegations local politicians and officials were bribed in order to hide the scale of the problem at the plant. A judge ordered that three of the seven should be detained in custody and the other four be put under house arrest. Parts of the plant have been closed since July following a Taranto court's order to impound the smelting areas in order to safeguard people and the environment. Local authorities ordered the closure while legal proceedings continue against the company and its managers for generating toxic emissions that have been linked to causing abnormal levels of tumours and respiratory diseases in the area. The company has filed a petition for the partial shutdown orders to be lifted, saying that otherwise Italy's biggest steel plant will close. ILVA's request follows the Italian environment minister's approval of the company's new remediation plan, a detailed set of conditions and measures under which ILVA would be permitted to operate, called the AIA. ILVA's lawyers argue the company needs control of the impounded areas in order to execute the approved AIA remediation plan. Their request says it is impossible to perform the necessary work on the smelting areas without access to them, and that banks will not finance a company with impounded assets, sources told ANSA.
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di Giovanni Pastore