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Eco-Mafia has 'raped' parts of Italy, says minister

Whole country must tackle problem, says Galletti

27 March, 14:28
Eco-Mafia has 'raped' parts of Italy, says minister (ANSA) - Naples, February 5 - The so-called 'Ecomafia' has "raped" parts of Italy with the dumping of toxic waste and the whole country is responsible, Environment Minister Gianluca Galletti said after arriving in the southern region of Campania Thursday.

The powerful Naples-based Camorra mafia has long infiltrated the rubbish-collection industry and has raked in huge profits even as its illegal dumps and uncontrolled burning of waste and other toxic materials have been blamed for unusually high levels of cancer and other disease linked to pollution that will plague future generations.

The burning of waste in the area between Naples and Caserta has led to it being dubbed the "land of fires".

Although the waste is usually disposed of in southern Italy, it is often produced by firms in other parts of the country and sometimes by foreign companies too.

"The land of fires is a priority for my ministry," Galletti said after arriving in Naples.

"Here the land has been raped and the whole country is responsible, so the whole country must tackle this problem...

"There are responsibilities that go from north to south and no one is exempt, which is why it's a national problem.

"I'll come to Campania often because this land deserves to be given back to the people of Campania and to all of Italy". In February parliament passed an emergency environmental law that, among other things, makes burning rubbish without authorization a crime.

The law also introduced tougher controls on agricultural land, where waste is often illegally dumped, which will be reportedly checked and fenced in the next 150 days.

It provides harsh penalties for those found guilty of burning waste and allocates an additional 600 million euros to the 300 million euros previously granted to Campania to clear land used for illegal rubbish dumps.

Levels of toxicity in the soil of land used for farming will be tested under the measure.

This month the government said that products from areas considered at risk would be stopped from going on the market after Campania farmers and food producers said their sales had been badly affected by the scandal.