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Italy may nix ArcelorMittal's protection from Ilva steel plant cleanup liability

The Italian Parliament plans to revoke ArcelorMittal's legal protection over the Ilva International SpA steel plant, Reuters reported Oct. 21, citing Dario Stefano, deputy Senate leader of the Democratic Party.

The legal shield protects the company from any liability related to an environmental cleanup, which ArcelorMittal agreed to do as part of its purchase of Ilva in 2018. The plant has been blamed for hundreds of cancer-related deaths in the city of Taranto.

The company had canceled a plan to close the plant after the government adopted an amended law that restored the shield, which the state had planned to remove.

But the legal immunity was only temporary as the law was subject to ratification by Parliament. Stefano told the newswire that his party and its coalition partner, 5-Star Movement, agreed to scrap the measure.

The report noted that the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement has a strong environmentalist platform and advocated for the closure of the plant prior to the national elections in March 2018.

The government will be asked to ensure job levels of the plant's 8,000-strong workforce are protected, Stefano added. Italian Industry Minister Stefano Patuanelli will meet with ArcelorMittal managers in the next few days, a government source said, according to the newswire.