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ILVA steel plant referendum fails to make quorum

81% favor total shutdown, but only 19.5% cast ballots

15 April, 17:41
ILVA steel plant referendum fails to make quorum (ANSA) - Taranto, April 15 - An advisory referendum on the troubled ILVA steel plant in Taranto failed to win the necessary quorum of votes to make it binding, election results released Monday revealed.

A referendum held Sunday queried voters in the southern Italian port city whether they would like to see the steel plant partially or entirely shuttered, but only 19.5% of the electorate bothered to vote. In Italy, referenda are valid only if at least 50% of eligible voters cast ballots.

But those who did vote expressed a strong preference for shutting down Italy's largest steel plant, which is accused of causing illness, death and severe environmental damage through years of toxic emissions. Eighty-one percent of the vote favoured total shutdown of the plant. In a second poll, 92.6% of the voters approved of a partial shutdown, or closure of the smelting areas, considered the major source of pollution. In the Tamburi neighborhood, which is most exposed to the emissions, only 14.57% of eligible voters marked ballots.

ILVA is a major source of employment in an economically depressed area of southern Italy. A court-ordered partial shutdown and the seizure of manufactured parts have sparked strikes, demonstrations, government intervention, as well as a legal row between Taranto judges and the State government.