ROME Italian authorities have taken control of a cement plant belonging to Italcementi, the world's fifth-largest cement maker, over allegations of illegal toxic emissions, the company said on Thursday.
The company has been given 10 days to finish updating its facilities to bring them in line with European Union regulations, during which time production at the plant will continue, according to a statement.
Italcementi said the process of updating the plant had already been underway for some weeks and would continue under special administrators appointed to operate factory by the court.
Justice officials said the seizure for violation of pollution regulations was ordered by a court in the nearby town of Velletri, based on a report by the regional environmental protection agency, Arpa.
This is the second case this year of an Italian court seizure of a major factory for environmental reasons.
Europe's biggest steel plant Ilva, based in southern Italy, was ordered to shut down last month by a court due to toxic emissions.
The ruling prompted a series of protests by unions and opposition from within Mario Monti's government as the factory is a vital employer in a region of high joblessness, causing something of a political headache for the technocrat leader.
Italcementi, one of Italy's 10 largest industrial companies and the country's biggest cement producer, has plants across the country and employs roughly 200 workers at the plant in Colleferro, southeast of Rome.
The Colleferro plant produces about 2 percent of Italcementi's total annual output of 74 million tonnes of cement per year, according to the company's Web site.
(Corrects Colleferro plant, Italcementi annual output in final paragraph)
(Reporting by Naomi O'Leary; Editing by Hans-Juergen Peters)