photographer Christian Mantuano
ILVA is a steel factory based in Taranto, in the southern region of Puglia. It is the largest steel producer in Europe but since the beginning of its activity in 1965, the population in the surrounding area has been affected by an incredibly high rate of health diseases.
The death rate has increased dramatically: stomach cancer, pleura cancer, lung neoplasm, are just some of the frequent diagnosis given to ill locals. The most affected area is Tamburi, the neighborhood next to the factory which gets flooded with benzene, IPA and dust every time the wind blows.Residents say they are are fighting an endless war. The children playground’s grass is scorched by the ore and the elderly spend most of their time strolling in the sidewalks covered with dust. The whole neighborhood is covered by a reddish heavy dust whose brown and black shades make the landscape surreal.
On August 2012 the court ordered the closure of some departments of the factory for alleged environmental disaster. So it began the paradox which up to now has not been resolved: workers take the streets and protest against the closure in order to defend their jobs. At the same time, environment campaigners try to stress the danger for locals health. Before Italsider took over (the former name of the Ilav factory) Taranto was a beautiful historical city overlooking two seas. It counted about 335,000 inhabitants and its economy was based on fishing and fish farming. Since it has been transformed into an industrial unit, Taranto has been forgotten. Nowadays it is a place “killed” by the same industry that makes it survive.