Threat to Venice chemical plant recedes

Magistrate withdraws waste pipe closure order following discussions with companies

Venice magistrate Luca Ramacci yesterday lifted a closure order on a main waste pipe at the Porto Marghera chemical manufacturing site near Venice. Imposed a week ago, the order threatened some of Italy's biggest chemical companies with serious disruption to production and caused a wave of protest from local firms and workers (ENDS Daily 22 June). The magistrate imposed the order claiming that the pipe might be discharging illegal levels of pollutants into the Venice lagoon. During negotiations, firms using the pipe agreed to install a further treatment step before releasing waste. However, since they have consistently denied that the discharge breached regulatory limits, the basis for the agreement negotiated between them and the magistrate remains unclear. Companies operating at the Marghera complex and local trade unions have welcomed the lifting of the closure order, which they feared would lead to severe job losses. But environmental groups and the Italian Green Party remain opposed to the plant. "The re-opening of the waste pipe should not be used as an excuse to prevent a serious assessment of whether these plants are compatible with the environment and public health," said a Green Party senator for the Venice constituency.

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