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Italian Mafias Doing ‘Industrial Waste Business’

Posted January. 19, 2003 22:53,   


The Italian Mafias are putting their hands even on ‘waste.’

A recent issue (27th) of an American weekly economy magazine Business Week reported that because of the Mafias, who started to commit environmental crimes using shabby laws and inefficient supervision, all parts of Italy became a toxic disposal facility. The toxic industrial waste business is becoming a gold egg bearing goose to the Italian ‘environmental Mafias.’

At a small town in central Italy called Umbria, a farmer went to a retail shop to buy some fertilizer in spring of 1999. A store clerk recommended him to change to new fertilizer, so he decided to use 550kg of it for free. The farmer sprinkled toxic waste camouflaged as fertilizer over wheat and corn.

The prosecutor prosecuted the owner of a waste disposal company the Ecoberde with a charge of selling wastes as fertilizers. It seems difficult to dispose him according to law because the lawyers of the Ecoberde are insisting that there is no evidence. It is because no customers, who place their wastes to be disposed with them, are testifying.

It is presumed that Mafias are involved with around 30% of the waste disposal companies. There are not many expenses except portage, so all the earnings are left as profits. The presumed market scale of the illegal waste business a year is as much as 7 billion dollars.

It takes a dollar per kg to dispose toxic wastes legally; however, the environmental Mafias dispose them with one tenth of that. So, the legal waste disposal companies are all going bankrupt.

As of last October, there were 4,000 illegal waste disposal facilities all over Italy, and in 705 places of them, deadly poisonous materials were disposed.

About 300,000t out of 11 million tons of industrial wastes that are disappearing without leaving any traces are deadly poisonous materials. It takes several trillion dollars to cleanup all that.

Because of worrying of retaliation of Mafias, reports and investigations are not done properly. Some local governments are getting bribes from Mafias.

In 1995, a farmer from the town of Piteli in northwest Italy examined the soil by himself since there was no result even though he reported to the local government. The amount of heavy metals and dioxin was much more than the standard. He, who suffered with threat, was once hospitalized with a bullet wound. It is known that Mafias have been disposing toxic materials in this area in the 80`s and made half a million dollars a day in average. To crown all, this area has been declared ‘environmental disaster area.’

Seung-Jin Kim sarafina@donga.com