Government criticises ILVA decree (2)

Negotiations frozen pending outcome of legal action

(ANSA) - Taranto, November 29 - Sparks flew between the Italian government and local and regional authorities in Puglia on Wednesday after the latter challenged a decree modifying the environmental cleanup plan for the troubled ILVA steel plant in Taranto. Environment Minister Gian Luca Galletti expressed his surprise at the move, saying the new industrial plan for Europe's largest steelworks is strong and that the environmental plan is the best that has ever been seen. Economic Development Minister Carlo Calenda accused the local and regional authorities of schizophrenic management and said the deal on ILVA involving sale to a consortium led by ArcelorMittal and the associated environmental clean-up risked falling apart. "Enough of stealing our children's future, blackmail doesn't frighten us," replied Taranto mayor Rinaldo Melucci in reference to the ongoing health risk posed by the plant. Meanwhile Calenda has frozen negotiations pending the decision by the Legge regional administrative court.
    If the appeal against the decree is upheld production at the plant must stop. Metalworkers' union FIOM also expressed criticism of the move by the centre-left Puglia regional government led by Michele Emiliano.
    "CGIL (the trades union confederation of which FIOM is a part) considers Emiliano's decision a mistake. This is not the time for courthouses, there are negotiations underway, it is the time for responsibility," former FIOM general secretary Maurizio Landini said. The Taranto plant is undergoing a painful restructuring to revamp it and clean it up after years in which it was linked to high local cancer rates.
    The decree at the centre of the controversy was approved by the government at the end of September.