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Report: Italy to restore ArcelorMittal's legal shield over Ilva cleanup

The Italian government will offer ArcelorMittal temporary and limited legal immunity to prevent the closure of its Ilva International SpA plant, Reuters reported Aug. 7, citing a government source.

The steelmaking giant had threatened to shut down the plant, which it acquired last year, on Sept. 6 after the government lifted legal protections for managers in case a planned environmental cleanup failed.

The new legal shield, to be enforced at the end of August, will be included in a broader decree on industrial disputes recently approved by the cabinet. It will not include provisions for deaths at work or for pollution-related illness, the source said.

The plant in the Italian city of Taranto has been blamed for hundreds of cancer-related deaths. As part of its acquisition, ArcelorMittal agreed to invest €1.1 billion to carry out a cleanup program scheduled for completion in 2023.

An Italian public prosecutor recently ordered a production halt at the mill's blast furnace number 2 as it did not comply with operational safety standards.