Mercoledì, 19 Settembre 2018

Steel managers 'aware, unrepentent' says Taranto judge


(ANSA) - Taranto, July 27 - Managers at the ILVA steelworks
in Taranto that was partially shut down were "perfectly aware"
of the harmful and toxic substances it was releasing, said an
arrest warrant and plant-shutdown order made public Friday.
The order was made Thursday to shut down much of the ILVA
steel plant and place eight of its managers and ex-managers -
including owner Emilio Riva - under house arrest.
The judge's actions set off the protest and strike of
thousands of steel workers desperate to save their jobs, but was
greeted by environmentalists, doctors and the Taranto mayor as
the beginning of long-overdue justice to remedy an environmental
disaster that has caused grave illnesses and deaths in
surrounding areas.
"There is no doubt that those indicted were perfectly aware
that steel production activities unleashed harmful, toxic
substances (like dioxins) for human and animal health," but
"there has been no sign of repentance, since they continued to
poison the surrounding environment for years," wrote Taranto
judge Patrizia Todisco in her arrest warrant and plant-shutdown
"The emissions continued from 1995 and are still occurring
with all their toxicity," not only directly affecting nearby
residents, but also areas used by commercial farms for goat and
sheep pastures.
"The presence of the farms was known for years, yet for
years nothing was done to prevent the dispersion of toxic dust
that poisoned the environment where the farms operated," the
judge noted, adding that ILVA's emissions contaminated 2,271
animals with dioxins and PCBs. The animals, which were meant for
consumption, had to be destroyed.
Epidemiological and chemical assessments completed this
spring concluded that the steel plant's emissions had caused
hundreds of deaths and high levels of other illnesses.
Shutting down the steel plant was the only way to protect
the health of Taranto residents, said Dr. Patrizio Mazza,
hematologist at the Moscati hospital in Taranto, who complained
for years about the high rate of cancer in the area.
"The data are clear and indicate a 30% increase in tumors,
as (the Italian national oncological association) certified in
2006, but also many other illnesses, from pulmonary to
autoimmune diseases," Mazza said.
"The only thing to do at this point is to close the plant,
because even a reduction in emissions, let's suppose 10%, will
do nothing to reduce the number of tumors. Genetic recovery
takes time, and most of all requires the absence of the agents
that caused (the damage)".
Mazza called trying to remediate the environment and plant
"useless", because remediation efforts "should regard an area of
1,600 square kilometers".
"Our charges were founded. In 2009 we presented a complaint
asking the magistrate to shed light on the environmental
situation and the damages caused by the pollution," Taranto's
mayor - a pediatrician - Ippazio Stefano told ANSA.
The Taranto re-examination court will hear the case for
repeal of the plant shutdown and arrest orders beginning on
August 3.

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