Ex Ilva, the clash over the factory is rekindled
New clash in Taranto on the former Ilva, now Acciaierie d'Italia. On May 22, Mayor Rinaldo Melucci (Pd) signed an ordinance ordering the resolution of the increased benzene emissions. Melucci assigns a time of 60 days, after which the plants in the hot steel area will have to be shut down. The mayor had already issued a similar ordinance in February 2020. It was validated by the Lecce Tar, against which the administrative measure was challenged by the former Ilva, but then in June 2021 quashed by the Council of State. Recipients of the new ordinance are Acciaierie d'Italia, the company that manages the group's plants on a lease basis, 62 percent owned by the private Mittal and 38 percent by Invitalia (Mef), and Ilva in extraordinary administration. The latter is an entirely public company, owner of the factories, which is headed by three commissioners appointed by the minister.
What the provision provides
The mayor Melucci assigns the two companies, "each for its own competences and responsibilities", "30 days to identify the plants responsible for the increase in the concentration of benzene recorded by the atmospheric control units". Melucci also. retracing the similar provision of February 2020, he ordered the two companies "to identify a timely solution to the problem. Without which - the mayor has - within 60 days of the ordinance it will be necessary to proceed with the shutdown of the plants in the hot area ".
“We have received clear evidence from the Local Health Authority with respect to the risk for the population - declares the mayor of Taranto -, in particular with regard to the damage caused by the increase in the annual average concentration of benzene, even if below the legal limits. A further report by Arpa has allowed us to correlate the peaks recorded to the activity of the steel plant, for this reason the ordinance is aimed at AdI and Ilva in as". “We applied the precaution that the rules assign us with respect to a problem that had already been raised and addressed also within the observatory inspired by article 41 of the Constitution, which we established in January - concludes the mayor of Taranto -. The new elements have put us in a position to proceed and now we await the necessary answers".
The intervention of Deputy Minister Gava
Just a few days ago, during question time in the Senate, the Deputy Minister for the Environment, Vannia Gava, precisely on benzene emissions from the steel industry, declared that "Ispra is evaluating, in collaboration with Arpa Puglia, carrying out instrumental checks in specific areas of the iron and steel plant, as well as in other areas of the neighboring Eni refinery". We study "the possibility of placing passive samplers to conduct continuous monitoring in addition to existing control units". The objective, the deputy minister noted, is to measure "the contribution of any sources from which the increasing levels of benzene originate as reported by Arpa Puglia and ASL Taranto".
Furthermore, according to the Deputy Minister for the Environment, "Following the critical issues reported in December 2022 by Ares Puglia and Asl Taranto, Ispra has launched a series of activities aimed at researching objective factors which within the steel plant and the complexes industrial enterprises subject to the national Hague and neighbours, can determine an increase in the concentrations of benzene not only in the immediate areas, adjacent to the perimeter of the site, up to levels very close to the limit values established by legislative decree 155 of 2010”. According to Gava, on the basis of the suggestions of the Higher Institute of Health, "the need emerged for in-depth analyzes and evaluations with particular regard to the relationships between emissions, environmental concentrations and exposure of the population in order to identify the specific activities causing the criticality and appropriate risk prevention measures.