Clini suggests ILVA civil trial, study shows high death toll
'10% higher-than-expected mortality rate'17 September, 18:17
(ANSA) - Rome, September 17 - Environment Minister Corrado Clini says his department is willing to participate in a civil trial to assess responsibility for the pollution emitted by ILVA's steelworks in Taranto.
Clini's comments on Tuesday came at the same time a new study concluded residents of the community in southern Italy face a heightened risk of death.
''The Ministry of Environment will establish a civil trial aimed at identifying who has liability for pollution of Taranto,'' Clini wrote on his Twitter feed.
Meanwhile, data from the Institute of Health show a mortality rate that's 10% higher than would be expected in the area around Taranto, where the troubled steelworks - accused of longstanding health and environmental violations - is based.
The data, which is to be given Wednesday to the Health Minister Renato Balduzzi, was taken from 2003 to 2008 and confirms previous data with similar findings of heightened mortality and illness.
This would seem to support criticisms that for years, the ILVA steel plant - one of Europe's largest - has emitted toxic pollution into the community's environment.
That was the justification used by prosecutors in July to shut down parts of the plant and order expensive upgrades - a move that the Italian government, the company, and unions at the plant have been fiercely fighting.
Clini has promised 90 million euro in public funds for the ILVA cleanup and more for the region of Puglia, where it is based.
More money could be available for ILVA from the European Union through funds for community projects, Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani said Tuesday in an interview with Radio RAI.
Tajani has been participating in a series of meetings involving the ILVA case.
Tajani said the Puglia government could request funding through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) which could be used to mitigate environmental damage done by the ILVA steelworks. The European Investment Bank could also become involved, backstopping investment in the restructuring of the plant, he added.