Pollution turns sea red in Italian port city

Taranto, Italy: Industrial pollution has turned sea around southern Italian port city of Taranto red colour, local activists say.

Residents circulated photographs showing the  bay area sea turned rust red while another one shows rust-coloured dense fog billowing over the city streets.

A resident clicked the photo near one of the quays of the Ilva Steelworks – a major plant located within the city.

A member of the Italian metalworkers’ union, Francesco Maggio, told La Repubblica daily that such incidents happen often in Taranto.

Other residents say heavy rainfall carried iron oxide from the steelworks into local water that caused the red colouration.

Residents wrote a letter to Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Minister of Economic Development Carlo Calenda and Minister of Environment Gian Luca Galletti.

Photographs attached to the letter, published by Genitori Tarantini on Facebook page, graphically show the city’s pollution.

Local residents complain about the negative effects of the Ilva Steelworks on their health. They partially blame the factory for the alarming rate of cancer among local children. Data shows its 30 percent higher than the Italian average.

Children under age14 living close to the Ilva plant have higher chances of getting lung or bronchial cancer, says a report by the Italian Association of Cancer Registries  (Airtum).

Data collected between 2006 and 2011 shows they are three times more likely to suffer from asthma or respiratory problems than their peers.