A manufacturing plant in Taranto, Italy by ILVA, Italy's largest steel maker, may be forced to close shop after a court ruling released over the weekend ordered the particular plant cannot fabricate steel while in the process of carrying out court-ordered improvements to its production line in light of the environmental and public health hazards it has created to its community.
ILVA is Italy's largest state-owned steel plant.
Local judge Patrizia Todisco on Saturday said she finds it quite impossible and "cannot foresee using the site... for production purposes" while an investigation into a possible "environmental catastrophe" is being carried out.
A clean-up order was issued by a court last week on the chemicals that the factory spewed out which have been blamed for an environmental and public health crisis. The order, however, did not call for the plant's closure.
Located in the poor southern city of Taranto, the plant provides jobs to 12,000 people in a region where unemployment exceeds 30 percent, the Ansa news agency reported.
"I don't even want to pronounce that word (layoffs) ... But if they block production here, the outlook gets more complicated not just for the almost 12,000 employees, but also for the whole supply chain," Reuters News quoted ILVA Chairman Bruno Ferrante as saying in an interview with Italian newspaper la Stampa on Sunday.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti was reported to be affected on the matter and had sent three ministers to Italy to try and prevent a shutdown.
"The closure and turning off of the plant must be avoided at all costs, something that would cause irreparable damage. Nothing will be left untried," Reuters News cited newswire ANSA report, quoting Italy's Industry Minister Corrado Passera as saying on Sunday.
One of Europe's biggest steel plants, the plant is caught in a fierce stand-off between proponents and antagonists, most especially those whose source of income are derived from working in the plant.
Chemicals spilling from the plant have been found to contain high cancer rates and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases among workers and local residents, according to experts, but the risk of losing jobs once the plant is closed sparked protests and angered labour unions.
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