(See related articles) (ANSA) - Rome, July 27 - Italian Environment Minister Corrado Clini declared the government's intention to keep the ILVA steel plant in production on a Friday. "We want production to continue," Clini said told Italian news channel Tgcom24. "The cabinet of ministers has confirmed its commitment by signing a memorandum of understanding, and the government is working to uphold it," Clini added, making reference to a government pledge Thursday to allocate 336 million euros for environmental clean-up and recovery. On Thursday, a Taranto judge ordered the shutdown of six areas of Italy's largest steel plant - which press reports say provides roughly 30% of Italy's steel needs - along with the house arrest of eight managers and ex-managers, including the plant's owner Emilio Riva. Judge Patrizia Todisco charged that the steel plant's toxic fumes and dust have gravely endangered the lives of people and animals in the area since 1995. The judge's actions have unleashed the protest of thousands of steel workers worried for their jobs, as well as outcry from unions and the steel industry. Environmentalists, doctors and the mayor of Taranto view the shutdown order and arrest warrant as the first sign of remediation and accountability to an ongoing, unmitigated environmental disaster.