Italian steel producer ILVA faces closure, throwing thousands out of work after magistrates ordered the seizure of all steel produced from its main plant in Taranto.
The judicial decision is part of a long running dispute over pollution from the mill following accusations it is responsible for serious health problems in the region.
ILVA managers claim the move will lead to the immediate shut down of its five other plants which depend on supplies from Taranto.
Media reports claim up to 25,000 jobs could be at risk either directly or indirectly from the closures.
However prosecutors who are investigating a higher than the national average cancer-rate in the region are remaining firm.
“This is not just a ‘technical’ inquiry. There’s something more. At the heart of it are some basic “principles of governing any civilisation,” said Taranto prosecutor Franco Sebastio.
Seven managers including ILVA’s chairman and his son have also been arrested on suspicion of bribing officials to cover up the scale of the health and environmental scandal. A video of an alleged handover of cash has been discovered.
Steel workers who are fighting to keep their jobs have vowed to continue their occupation of the site in southern Italy. The crisis has forced the government to intervene by calling an emergency meeting of all parties on Thursday.