The case of the ILVA steel plant in Italy demonstrates the environmental, health and economic impacts associated with environmental infringements committed by industrial companies. The complexity of the situation, the different issues at stake and the large set of actors involved make the ILVA case a particularly interesting scenario for the research on environmental crime.
Since 1997 the ILVA steel plant in Taranto has been considered as “area at high risk of environmental crisis”; in the following years, the emergency situation in the territory of Taranto has become more and more evident, with serious consequences for health and environment. Surveys commissioned by the Court of Taranto as well as studies carried out by public bodies and NGOs have shown heavy pollution of air, soil, surface and ground waters in the neighboring areas of the steel plant.
Also employment issues have played a relevant role in the ILVA case; indeed, the ILVA steel plant employs thousands of people in Italy and the consequences of a potential closure or liquidation of ILVA would be dramatic. Moreover, the reduction of the steel production would also have significant effects on the whole Italian industrial system.
The critical situation in the city of Taranto resulted in a series of complex events which have followed in rapid succession since 2012 at present; among others, it is worth to recall the closure of blast furnaces, ordered by the judicial authority; the adoption by the Government of the so called ‘Save ILVA Decree’; the decision of the Constitutional Court No. 85 of 2013; the recent enactment of Law Decree No. 1 of 2015 dealing with the ILVA company and the city of Taranto.
The ILVA case clearly reveals that the fair balance between the right to health and the protection of environment, on the one hand, the right to work and production needs, on the other one, could be very difficult to achieve. In this framework, the State plays an essential role in order to guarantee national strategic capabilities and jobs, as well as the protection of fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitutions and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.