Italy Confronts Europe's Largest Dump
NAPLES, ITALY--Acres and acres of solvents, plastics, construction materials and other toxic waste are now being unearthed in Italy as that nation confronts what appears to be the largest illegal dumping site in Europe.
Excavation is just beginning at the vast site, which is estimated to cover more than 60 acres in the Calvi Risorta area north of Naples, officials say.
In the first three days, bulldozers dug out more than two million cubic meters of hazardous materials, including 55-gallon drums of French industrial waste and containers with solvents, news outlets across the continent reported.
“We found waste leaking back up to the surface from buried containers," Sergio Costa, regional commander of the Forestry Police, told Euro News.. "Some of it was flammable.
"These are exceptionally hazardous and would have been expensive to treat first before being disposed of in the correct way. That’s why it was just dumped here.”
Digging was to resume Friday (June 19). Meanwhile, area prosecutors have commissioned environmental testing on the area.
Pink and Blue Soil
For decades, the waste has been turning the soil blue and pink, and cancer rates in the area are running 80 percent above the national average, reports say.
Much of the site is being blamed on the Camorra crime syndicate, which reportedly makes hundreds of millions a year from illegal dumping.
In the first three days of excavation, bulldozers dug out more than two million cubic meters of hazardous materials from the site, which is believed to cover more than 60 acres.
The environmental group Legambiente has said that organized-crime groups across southern Italy are earning more than $20 billion USD a year by illegally burying heavy metals and cancer-causing organic compounds in agricultural or residential construction areas, 1ClickNews reported,
Many companies from the north of Italy are thought to pay Mafia clans to dispose of dangerous industrial waste, reports said.
Costa said the waste disposal used an “almost scientific system," layering soil with toxic materials, topped off by a thin cover of clean soil.
A Blind Eye
Generations of locals turned a blind eye to the operation until journalist Salvatore Minieri began investigating the site.
“We used images made back in the 1960s, and we have compared them with recent pictures and have discovered lots of new over grown mounds," Minieri told Euro News.
"We used a drone and, with shovels, we discovered that the soil beneath the surface was blue or pink."