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Italian government seeks to keep open Europe's largest steel plant caught in health scandal

The Italian government is preparing measures aimed at avoiding the closure of a steel plant that is Europe's largest by capacity and has been the subject of a health scandal.

Premier Mario Monti's government hammered out measures Friday, a day after meeting with owners and union representatives at the Ilva plant in the southern province of Taranto.

The plant owners announced this week plans to close the facility after prosecutors ordered the seizure of some steel products as part of an investigation into environmental issues and an alleged cover-up.

The government has been working to address concerns over high rates of cancer in the area while improving safety at the plant, the province's most important employer. The plant's closure would drain some €8 billion ($10 billion) annually from the economy.