Martedì, 16 Ottobre 2018

ILVA boss in row over blaming smoking for cancer rates


(By Denis Greenan).
Rome, July 15 - The government-appointed
commissioner of steel group ILVA's troubled plant in Taranto
sparked a furore Monday by suggesting high cancer rates in the
southern Italian city were due to residents' excessive smoking
rather than the pollution the factory has been belching into the
local air for decades.
Cancer rates around the steel plant in Puglia, which is
accused of causing an environmental disaster, have been shown to
be 15% above the national average, rising to 30% for lung
Enrico Bondi, a turnaround guru picked to guide Europe's
biggest steel plant through a government-ordered clean-up and
retooling to save jobs at the city's largest employer, was
quoted in the Italian press at the weekend as saying that the
high rate of tumours in Taranto were "the fault of cigarettes,
whose use was above average in the city in the 1970s".
Bondi further claimed that "rates have been falling since
then," an assertion that was rejected by medical experts called
to assess the health of residents.
Bondi's statements spurred a widening row which included a
call from Puglia Governor Nichi Vendola that he should "resign
because of these ill-informed and frankly insulting claims, a
slap in the face for all those who have been hit by cancer in
Italian environmental group Legambiente also called on
Bondi to go, saying he had "insulted the intelligence of all
Green Leader Angelo Bonelli said Bondi "cannot be ILVA
commissioner one second longer".
After being summoned for "clarification" by Italian
Environment Minister Andrea Orlando, Bondi issued a statement
denying he had ever linked the tumour rate to tobacco
"I never said nor wrote that tobacco causes more harm than
ILVA's emissions," Bondi said.
"The polluting emissions from the plant, according to
scientific investigations and reviews submitted to judges, have
also had a significant health impact," he said.
But Orlando, who is also set to choose three new experts to
oversee clean-up and rehabilitation of the plant, did not revoke
his call for Bondi to give him an explanation for his reported
The ILVA plant has faced enormous problems in the past year
and the Italian government appointed Bondi first as new CEO and
then special commissioner to oversee a comprehensive revamp.
The factory has been at the centre of a political and legal
battle since last July when local magistrates ordered its
partial closure due to serious health concerns.
The Riva group, which controls ILVA and its Taranto plant,
is the biggest iron and steel producer in Italy, the
fourth-biggest in Europe and the 23rd-biggest in the world.
Earlier this month, prosecutors asked the courts to indict
Emilio Riva, ILVA's former head, on charges of massive tax
Milan prosecutor Francesco Greco accused Riva, and two
other former executives of the steelmaker, of evading 52 million
euros in taxes dating back to 2007.
A London-based executive with Deutsche Bank was also named
by the prosecution for assisting in the alleged fraud.
Emilio and Adriano Riva, owners of the Riva group, have
been under investigation for fraud against the State and fake
money transfers.
Some 1.2 billion euros transferred out of Italy by the
Rivas were previously confiscated.
In January, ILVA executive Fabio Riva, another family
member, was arrested in London after two months on the run.
Taranto prosecutors issued a European arrest warrant
for Fabio Riva last December saying that he was sought as part
of a criminal probe into the environmental scandal at the
Corporate troubleshooter Bondi, 78, was appoojnted
commissioner on June 4 with sweeping powers for three years to
save the plant's 20,000 jobs while stopping its pollution.
The proceeds of a court-ordered 8,000-euro seizure of
products will help fund the turnaround, Premier Enrico Letta has
Bondi made his name by restructuring chemicals giant
Montedison after a big scandal in the 1990s before reviving
dairy group Parmalat after Europe's largest-ever fraudulent
bankruptcy in 2003.
Before being appointed ILVA CEO in mid-April, he was the
spending-cuts czar in the previous government led by technocrat
Mario Monti.

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