Massimo Berruti

In the shadow of the Vesuvius, the area of Naples is subject to a major political, ecological and sanitary furore.

In twenty-two years, about 10 million tonnes of industrial waste have been buried illegally, with the help of the local mafia, the Camorra, and the complicity of the mayors of the 106 municipalities. The industrial waste, repurchased by the mafia at a very interesting price from 450 Italian and European companies, have been blended with urban waste and abandoned in open dumps. The fires triggered from time to time to reduce the amount of waste, and whose fume are extremely toxic, have given its name to the Land of Fires.

The scandal broke in 2013 when a study realised by the American army to control the standard of living of the soldiers based in the area of Naples revealed a high level of water pollution in the region. The report, which concluded that there was an « unacceptable health hazard » notably due to the presence of uranium, enlightened the link between the waste illegally buried and the ambient contamination, thus revealing the significant consequences of this smuggling on economical and sanitary fronts.

The number of congenital malformations is 80% superior to the national average, and the number of cancer accounted for in the area is in constant increase. Besides, cultivated land pollution damaged the important agricultural activity, subsequently threatening to impact on local agrifood industry.

Massimo Berruti documented on the life of the inhabitants who were the most affected by this environmental scandal. He worked with children who had leukemia, as well as with farmers who irrigated their lands with contaminated water and saw a collapse of their income when the consumers began to flee local products. He also met the « Volcano Mothers » who protest against the way in which the government is handling this crisis.

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