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Gov't sending 100 troops to fight ecomafia in Naples area

Military to assist in 'Land of Fires' toxic waste dumping

31 March, 17:37
Gov't sending 100 troops to fight ecomafia in Naples area (ANSA) - Naples, March 31 - Italy's government is sending 100 military troops to fight the so-called ecomafia in the area between Naples and Caserta, Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said Monday. The illegal burning of toxic waste in the area has led to it being dubbed the "land of fires".

With 90 clans and 4,000 affiliates active in the region, 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. 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 as well.

Mafia infiltration of waste disposal has become a major environmental and health issue as hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste - some of it dangerously contaminated - has been illegally dumped in what some have described as an ecological time bomb that will continue to poison the land for at least another 50 years.

Monday's announcement follows on an emergency decree that became law in February to deal with ecomafia environmental crimes as well as industrial pollution from the ILVA steel plant in southern Italy.

It authorizes deployment of a maximum of 850 military troops in the Land of Fires up to December 31 this year.

"The military is staying as long as it's needed", Alfano told the National Public Safety and Order Committee, which he chaired Monday in Naples.