>>>ANSA/ Italian govt aims to pass ILVA decree, 2013 budget

Clini denies 'evacuation' plans for neighborhood near steelworks

>>>ANSA/ Italian govt aims to pass ILVA decree, 2013 budget

Milan, December 10 - Two Italian cabinet ministers said on Monday that the outgoing technical government aims to shepherd through parliament the so-called "ILVA decree", in addition to reforms laid out in next year's budget, before it is dissolved for early elections. "I believe that everyone understands the necessity of having to approve next year's budget and the ILVA decree," Civil Service Minister Filippo Patroni Griffi said outside a meeting in Milan, making reference to a government decree that establishes environmental clean-up measures under which the troubled ILVA steelworks plant in Taranto can continue to operate. The Italian government on November 30 approved a decree after ILVA said that the plant risked "imminent" closure due to a criminal probe into an environmental scandal that saw several top managers arrested. The Taranto plant's furnaces were placed under special administration in July following accusations that emissions from them caused abnormally high levels of tumours and respiratory diseases in the Taranto area. Premier Mario Monti said the decree would protect local people's health as well as the jobs of some 20,000 workers. Patroni Griffi cautioned that he could not firmly predict both bills' passage in parliament, since "guessing would require a gypsy with a crystal ball". The minister added, however, "It is important that everyone does his part with seriousness". Territorial Cohesion Minister Fabrizio Barca backed Patroni Griffi on Monday, saying, "I believe, and I hope, that there will be total convergence" on passing the ILVA decree. "With an inadmissible delay, finally after so many years, true compatibility between work and the environment have begun to be built," added Barca outside a separate conference in Milan. Environment Minister Corrado Clini denied there were plans to "evacuate" the Tamburi neighborhood next to the Taranto steel plant, which prosecutors and technicians maintain has suffered the brunt of toxic contamination. "A journalist asked me what I thought of the evacuation, and I clarified that we have never examined an evacuation hypothesis," Clini said at a university celebration in the southern Italian city of Piacenza. "The Taranto mayor asked again last July to examine the possibility of relocating a number of the homes closest to the ILVA (plant) and most exposed to environmental pollution," Clini explained. "I had said and confirm that this hypothesis can be worked on," Clini continued. "The goal is environmental rehabilitation, certainly not evacuation". "The hypothesis of the evacuation of the Tamburi neighborhood, as a general proposal, is the pure fruit of imagination on the part of those who want, at any cost, to maintain a climate of exasperation," confirmed Taranto Mayor Ippazio Stefano in his southern port city on Monday.

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