Italian Steel Mill Appeals Order to Stop Production

Europe's biggest steel mill launched an appeal against a judge's order to halt production while a cleanup operation of polluting chemicals at the ILVA plant in southern Italy is carried out. ILVA Chairman Bruno Ferrante, charged with overseeing the 336 million euro ($414 million) cleanup plan funded by the government, said he is convinced that "the judge's decisions are invalid" and demanded that the order be revoked.

Europe's biggest steel mill launched an appeal on Tuesday against a judge's order to halt production while a cleanup operation of polluting chemicals at the ILVA plant in southern Italy is carried out.

ILVA Chairman Bruno Ferrante, charged with overseeing the 336 million euro ($414 million) cleanup plan funded by the government, said he is convinced that "the judge's decisions are invalid" and demanded that the order be revoked.

Local judge Patrizia Todisco insisted Friday that operations could not continue while the health and safety upgrades are made. She was clarifying an earlier ruling that the company had interpreted as allowing it to remain open.

The plant site has witnessed a fierce standoff between those who want it closed during the investigation into a possible "environmental catastrophe" and thousands of families that depend on it for jobs amid a deep economic crisis.

Operators of the ILVA plant were ordered last week to clean up pollution that some blame for high local cancer rates in a ruling that could mean suspending output and losing business in Taranto, where unemployment is high.

Prime Minister Mario Monti is expected to send three ministers to the site to see if the government's intervention can keep the plant open.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012   

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