Rome

Court confirms earlier ruling to close production at ILVA

Govt fighting to save jobs at steel plant

Court confirms earlier ruling to close production at ILVA

(ANSA) - Rome, August 20 - In a move certain to trigger controversy, an Italian Court of Review on Monday confirmed an earlier ruling that would essentially halt production at Taranto's ILVA steel plant over pollution concerns. The announcement is certain to further outrage workers, the company, and even the Italian government, all of whom have been fighting to keep the plant, employing about 12,000, operating in this southern city. But Monday's confirmation of the August 7 ruling will please some residents and environmentalists who are concerned about the pollution coming from the plant since 1995. Earlier this month, prosecutors investigating the environmental concerns had ordered the partial closure of the plant until it is upgraded to meet international standards. ILVA management interpreted that August 7 ruling to mean they could continue to operate the plant while making the necessary upgrades to improve operations. It has warned that closure would not only put the livelihood of its workers in Taranto - which suffers from high unemployment - at risk, but would also put at risk the jobs of many other people in the related supply chain. However, officials said Monday that the Court of Review has now made clear that it intended for operations to shut down, and has informed ILVA of this. In its lengthy ruling in August, the court noted that the "guardians" of the plant had a duty to ensure the safety of facilities and apply all necessary measures to monitor emissions. Last Friday, ILVA announced its plan to put another 56 million euros towards cleaning up the environment after years of pollution and health abuses. "We have already earmarked and financed 90 million euros and we have in mind to finance soon another 56 million for a total of 146 million euros towards the environment," ILVA chairman Bruno Ferrante said following last Friday's meeting with Italy's environment and industry ministers. Meanwhile, a meeting has been planned for Tuesday in Rome involving Italy's Environment ministry and European Commission's environmental regulators to develop a work plan to oversee monitoring of the ILVA plant by September 30.

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