Italy Temporarily Nationalizes Ilva Steel Plant

Italy Temporarily Nationalizes Ilva Steel Plant

Italy's parliament approved Tuesday a government decree temporarily nationalizing the country's loss-making Ilva steel plant, one of the most polluting in Europe, in the hope of finding a new owner.

"The decree received final approval. For Taranto (and for Ilva) there is hope again," Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said on his Twitter account following the vote.

The site in Taranto in the Puglia region of southern Italy, which employs over 14,000 people, has been under special administration since 2013 when its owners, the Riva family, were accused of failing to prevent toxic emissions including carcinogenic particles from spewing out across the town.

The government hopes to find a new owner within three years.

The decree's adoption unlocks 2.0 billion euros (US$2.2 billion) to clean up and modernize the site.

It also unlocks 1.2 billion euros of the Riva family that had been frozen when the site was put under special administration, according to lawmaker Alessandro Bratti.

The facility, Europe's biggest, is currently operating at roughly half of its peak production level of 11 million tons per year because of weak demand and chronic overcapacity in the region.

A report by the European Environment Agency in December named the plant as one of the 30 worst industrial polluters in Europe.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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