Ilva-Taranto closure, arrests ‘harsh’, Assofermet says

The state shutdown of part of Italy’s biggest steel plant is “harsh”, Italian steel industry body Assofermet told Metal Bulletin.

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The country’s authorities last week ordered the partial closure of the Riva Group-owned Ilva steelworks in Taranto, in southern Italy, in response to fears about pollution.

Eight of the plant’s executives were placed under house arrest following a probe into reports that chemical leakages from the plant were leading to diseases among the local population.

Assofermet expressed its support and solidarity for the steel plant’s workers and executives, who it said had been “subject to […] severe measures” at the hands of local and national authorities.

“Even though we fully support the right for everyone to live in a decent and healthy environment, it is difficult to accept such harsh measures taken by the judiciary, given the difficult economic and employment situations that Italy is currently facing,” Assofermet said.

Closure of the plant would damage the image of the Italian steel industry and its credibility, it added.

“We hope that the highest authorities intervene as early as feasible, so that Ilva’s Taranto operations are restored as quickly as possible, thus avoiding more serious repercussions for the Italian steel sector, as well as the entire country’s production,” Assofermet concluded.

Ilva is in the town of Taranto, in Italy’s Puglia region. The plant was purchased by Riva from the Italian government in 1995. It has five blast furnaces and employs around 12,000 workers.