The paper analyses developments at ILVA’s steelmaking plant in Taranto. Industrial policies designed to promote the industrialization of Southern Italy, favoured by the DC (Christian Democrats), were behind the decision, taken in 1959, to build a green-field, integrated cycle, steel plant in Taranto. The plant was built by Italsider, a large State-owned steel company of the IRI conglomerate. However, at the time, the market for steel in Southern Italy was very small - even today it remains limited. On the other hand, the output of the Taranto plant was substantial, while successive plant enlargements increased it further to between six and eight million metric tons per year of mainly coil and plate. Most of this output was, and still is, shipped to Northern Italy for reprocessing in other ILVA plants. Therefore, the potential closure of the Taranto plant would be a major blow to not just the local economy, but to Italian industry as a whole. The article covers ILVA’s privatization in 1995, leading to its acquisition by the Riva family, former mini-mill owners, now major European steel producers; it analyses the environmental problems that have since come to light, specifically the plant’s high levels of pollution, their negative impact on nearby urban Taranto, and its outdated units, badly in need of modernization. In 2012, Italian prosecuting magistrates had no option but to impound the entire hot melting shop. The Italian government then passed a law obliging ILVA to implement the latest EU environmental regulations in an effort to prevent the plant from being shut down.
Keywords: Taranto, ILVA, Riva, steel industry