ILVA industry in Taranto, Italy

Save jobs or the environment? The false dilemma of environmental justice struggle: it is simply impossible to separate or to alienate life from work


The company Ilva belongs to the Riva Group and one of its iron and steel plants is based in Taranto. The plant is mainly dedicated to the processing and production of steel. The plant in Taranto was built in 1960 and was entrusted to Italsider for management. In 1905, a joint venture of the Group Elba, Terni and the Roman family Bondi was signed and the company Ilva was formed.

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Basic Data
NameILVA industry in Taranto, Italy
ProvincePuglia region
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Metal refineries
Specific CommoditiesAsbestos
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsIlva, which produces about 30 per cent of Italy’s steel output and employs 12,000 directly. Ilva is one the largest steelworks in Europe and is composed of 24 factories in Italy and abroad, the largest of these is located in Taranto. The production concerns carbon flat steel, welded pipes and plates; the main products are hot-rolled coil, cold, covered, rolling coils black, coated, by train as well as SAW welded pipes, ERW and shaped. The plant of Taranto uses an integral cycle plant consisting of coke ovens, blast furnaces, LD steelworks; the materials used are mainly iron, fluxes and coal. The data of 2013 showed the amount of steel production up to 5.7 million tons with 16,200 of direct employees and an estimated direct and indirect spin-off between 8,000 and 10,000 people [9] while, about the environmental protection , the latest data available go back up to 2012, the last year when the Ilva balance sheets were disclosed. So, probably, the Riva management achieved 6.1 billion euro, with a sum of 1.1 billion euro invested for the environmental protection.

It is precisely from July 2012, following the arrests triggered for some directors at the top of the group, that the establishment has been at the center of a complicated legal case, with national and political implications. In 2012, in fact, the Monti Government intervened to save the plant, avoiding its closure. This was done through issuing a decree-law through which, for establishments of national strategic interest, according the AIA (Integrated Environmental Authorisation), the Ministry of Environment may allow the continuation of production for a given period, not exceeding 36 months and provided that they fulfilled the requirements contained in the decision to review the same authorization [10]. This first decree is followed by the intervention of the Renzi Government, who, through the Decreto Salva Ilva bis has created the position of a environmental sub-commissioner to support the present special commissioner, and the company may ask for loans secured by lending banks to establish the appropriate environmental protection measures for the ongoing activities of the plant. The decree was signed into law and entered into force in January 2015, establishing the obligation, by July 2015, to implement 80% of prescriptions, and by 2016 the implementation of the remaining provisions that probably will be the most important ones; thereby negating the possibility of real recovery work [11]. Today, the special commissioner may have some of the money seized at the Riva family in 2013, which would be spared thanks to the non-compliance with environmental standards from 1995 to 2013, but the final decree blocked the transfer from the Swiss accounts. Finally, to demonstrate the serious insolvency of the group, by some considered unsolvable, there is the strike started by truck drivers at the end of January 2015, which, claiming a debt of 15 million euros threatened blocking of vehicles transporting raw materials, essential for the activity of the plant [12]
Project Area (in hectares)1545
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population192.474 (Taranto inhabitants)
Start Date2012
Company Names or State EnterprisesGruppo Riva from Italy
Relevant government actorsGoverno Italiano, Parlamento, Ministero dell’Economia e delle Finanze, Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico, Ministero della Sanità

Ministero dell’Ambiente e della Tutela del Territorio e del Mare, Fintecna, Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, Commissione Europea
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersThere are several organizations formed within civil society: Comitato Altamarea ( and Fondo Antidiossina ( together with the contributions from Peacelink ( started in 2000. In 2010 the movement Taranto Lider ( was born, while, in 2012, there were established the Comitato Cittadini e Lavoratori Liberi e Pensanti (, the movement of Ammazza che Piazza ( ), TARANTO LIBERA (, LEGAMJONICI ( and the Comitato Donne per Taranto. Also the work of the Federation of the Greens is of crucial importance (
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingIndustrial workers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Referendum other local consultations
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
OtherIn the technical report by ARPA (Regional Agency for the environmental protection) in 2008, the data indicated a quantity of Ilva discharges equal to 145000 m3 / h for a daily capacity of 3.48 million m3, indicating that the 93% of the aliphatic hydrocarbons discharged into the Gulf of Taranto are attributable to the same establishment [ 13]. The chemical survey in 2012 also stated that two years before Ilva issued from its chimneys over 4000 tons of dust, 11 thousand tons of nitrogen dioxide and 11 thousand and 300 tons of sulfur dioxide and 7 tons of hydrochloric acid, 1.3 tons of benzene, 338.5 pounds IPA, 52.5 grams of benzo (a) pyrene, 14.9 grams of organic compounds dibenzo-p-dioxins and polychlorinated [14]. The order for seizure in 05/22/2013, however, used a report of ARPA Puglia of 12/03/2013, which demonstrated the excessive amounts of dioxins, furans and polychlorinated biphenyls, in addition to Tetrafurani, indicating the presence of slag within the plant [15]. Finally, in 2013, six stations were installed for the detection of pollutants, especially H2S, PM10, PM10 with SWAM 5a. By the way, unfortunately, due to the limits prescribed by Decree. 155/10 these values are not applicable in the area of the plant as private. Obviously, these values exceed the limits commonly applied in the rest of the territory.
Health ImpactsVisible: Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases, Accidents
OtherThe data on the health impacts observed come from the epidemiological survey of 2012, which showed that "the deaths caused by Ilva in the period 2004 to 2010 were 174, 83 of these are attributable to the violation of the limits of environmental dust (PM10). For the neighbourhoods surrounding the city, since the situation is relatively more serious, the victims are 91 (...) "with a reference to the workers who served in the Ilva plant in the period between the years 70-90m

, there were detected excesses of mortality for cancer diseases. [16]. Still, the last Sentieri study 2014 has identified and ensures a clear increase in the incidence of cancer and infant mortality (respectively 54% and 21% compared to the average of Puglia), attributable to emissions and discharges of Ilva. The study also points out an obvious load of dioxins and PCBs in farm workers near the plant [17]. The studies of the Fondo Antidiossina have detected a high presence of dioxin in breast milk of the women of Taranto. In addition, over the years, several workplace accidents were registered in the plant, beyond 1696 occupational diseases reported to INAIL (National Institute for the Insurance against work related injury) between 1998 and 2010. The total indifference and disregard for the health protection of workers, detected and confirmed thanks to the testimonies of workers, caused the conviction in 2014 for manslaughter against 27 Ilva manager [18]
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Specific impacts on women, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Displacement
OtherThe women of Taranto had a very important role. The mothers, in particular, have figured out even before the expert opinions of the close link between the high number of cancer in children and the pollution produced by the establishment. Physicians, paediatricians and the Italian Association against Leukemia supported their demand and fears; they ask for clean air, the right to health of their children and a register of endometriosis, a condition that affects a large number of women in Taranto [18]. At the same time, many of these women who fight on the front line have been forced to give up their right to health, refusing to sign the petitions in the Public Prosecutor’s Office, because their husbands are employed at Ilva.
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (undecided)
New legislation
Strengthening of participation
Application of existing regulations
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Development of AlternativesThe local committees have proposed several proposals. Firstly, they have requested to order the money blocked to the Riva family with the aim to establish a New Company in which to insert the current employees of the plant and rehabilitation of the territory.

Otherwise, it has been suggested to proceed with the application for tax exemption concurrently to European funds, aimed at the creation of new start-ups. In addition, it was proposed the involvement of all the townspeople to enhance the Old City of Taranto, selling all properties unused at the symbolic cost of one euro. Still for the local revaluation, the Comitato dei Cittadini e Operai Liberi e Pensanti, proposed to return to the city of the state-owned properties no longer used by the Navy and turn them into cultural tourism poles. As for the port of Taranto, now needed for the industrial development, it has been thought to be able to exploit it for a greater impact on jobs and business with more profitable activities. About the delicate and baffling health conditions that characterize the area, it has been proposed the exemption of ticket for the inhabitants of the entire ionic area. Finally, it was suggested the evacuation of the Tamburi district, through a fund to demolish the buildings and build new ones. Only a small part of the residents, especially women - due to the lack of trust in institutions and attachment to their home and life- appreciated this alternative [20]. Another interesting proposal comes from the Greens, who presented the "Decreto Salva Taranto " (Save Taranto Decree) which, in addition to the land recovery, confiscation of property, offers early retirement of workers for physically demanding jobs. Moreover, it proposes the conversion of the port in tax free zone for fair trade, economic support for agriculture, mussel farming and infrastructure improvements to enhance the rail, road and construction of new works of interest such as City of Sport and Science. According to this alternative decree, European funds, state interventions and funds seized from the Riva family (including shares in Alitalia),and all the resources from the environmental damage that will be established by the Environment undersold trial [21], will permit the realisation of the projects contained in it.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Unfortunately, the Ilva case cannot be considered a victory for the movement for environmental justice yet. The decrees issued by the government, in fact, have suspended the laws on health and the environment that would protect the citizens, preferring the protection of economic interests. Citizens and workers have faced the threat of unemployment, families are struggling against cancers that affect their loved ones and movements are claiming for compensation and environmental improvements that have never been made. Numerous cattle have died due to the excessive rate of pollution and those impacted face daily the attempts to discredit them made by politicians.
Sources and Materials

Decreto Legge 2012

Decreto Legge 2015

Ministero dell’Ambiente – Autorizzazione Integrata Ambientale sezione Ilva di Taranto
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Direttiva 2010/75/UE


Il fatto quotidiano
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La repubblica
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Il sole 24 ore
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Il messaggero
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Huffington Post
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Gabriele Caforio, L’Ilva di Taranto tra interessi industriali e politiche ambientali, Tesi di laurea Università degli Studi di Perugia, A.A. 2011-2012

Leonardo Soleo, Piero Lovreglio, Laura Panuzzo, Maria Nicolà D’Errico, Antonella Basso, Maria Enrica Gilberti, Ignazio Drago, Cesare Tomasi, Pietro Apostoli, Valutazione del rischio per la salute da esposizione a elementi metallici nei lavoratori del siderurgico e nella popolazione generale di Taranto (Italia) in G Ital Med Lav Ergon 2012; 34(4): 381-91.


Licenziato l’operaio che aveva denunciato le irregolarità della fabbrica
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ILVA: per saperne di più
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Ilva, trecento giorni di disputa giudiziaria
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Ilva: nuovo ultimatum autotrasportatori
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Infortuni e malattie professionali a Taranto, un’analisi dei dati INAIL
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Endometriosi a Taranto, “L’inquinamento è la causa?” Esposto in Procura
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Taranto, i numeri dell’Ilva
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[9] Environmentalists and workers of the world, unite!

By Stefania Barca On June 3, 2014
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Other Documents

trade union demonstration against ILVA
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worker strike against ILVA
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ILVA plant
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ILVA Iron plant in Taranto
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we do not have a stainless health!
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorErika Agosti (CDCA)
Last update16/03/2015