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Italy has been warned it must tackle toxic emissions at Europe’s biggest steel plant or face potential fines from the European Commission.
Brussels says laboratory tests have shown heavy pollution of air, soil, surface and ground waters at the Ilva plant and in nearby residential areas of Taranto, the southern city where it is based.
In June, the Italian government appointed a special commissioner to run the troubled plant which is a massive local employer and oversee a costly cleanup operation. It is scheduled to take two years but the Commission wants a response to its formal notice letter within two months.
For protesters demanding the closure of the plant, this is not simply about complying with EU environmental directives. They say toxic emissions have caused abnormally high levels of cancer and respiratory illness.