The waste management in Campania – the region of Naples – has been under the control of an emergency commission since 1994. Despite the efforts of public authorities and the substantial investments to solve the crisis, the situation is now worse than in the past. Using a strong metaphor, writer and journalist Roberto Saviano in his best seller Gomorrah coined the term «Land of Fires» to indicate a large area in Campania region wherein deliberate fires are ignited to burn the waste, predominantly hazardous, by eco-mafias. Eco-mafias are accomplished by Camorra clans, the local criminal organisations, that yearly accumulate €20.5 billions on environmental crimes (more than the income of Italian enterprises such as car-manufacturer FIAT).
According to a survey of environmental monitoring agency ARPA, there are approximately 5200 critical sites in Campania. They are legal or illegal landfills, countryside lands, abandoned farms, parking lots and regular streets. In such sites millions of tons of waste are disposed, spilled, buried, poured, dumped and then burned, with deadly effects on the local population, environment and business. The dramatic situation in this area of Campania has serious consequences on locals that suffer from illnesses caused by dioxins, percolate and other highly toxic substances present in the land, air and water. In a 2004 article, Lancet Oncology called this area the «Triangle of Death» and exposed shocking statistics demonstrating that the death rate for liver cancer is close to 34.5% for males and to 20.8% for females, whereas the national average is 14%. Furthermore, the severe pollution is affecting the food chain as well, because residents consume food coming from the local land.
Here the waste has different origins and sources. Apart from the «domestic» waste, we can find tires, furniture, appliances, street-cleaning dusts, industrial process leftovers and construction materials. The waste is normally set on fire during night hours, when darkness obscures the black smoke and protects arsonists’ identity. Responsible for the fires are often roma minors or other immigrants that get minimal incomes by operating for eco-mafia clans. In the «Biùtiful Cauntri» , the garbage is nothing but the central element of a complex system that involves organised crime, business, health and the environment.
The text above is from David Boardman, that inspired this itinerary.
You can find more on his website TINK TANK.
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