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ILVA Toxins Make Life in Taranto Unliveable
CorriereDellaSerra.it ^ | 27 settembre 2012 | Antonio Crispino

Posted on 09/28/2012 11:45:39 AM PDT by DeaconBenjamin

At least one cancer victim in every family in the Tamburi district. “We have twice the incidence of acute infant leukaemia in comparison with the rest of Italy”

TARANTO – In the Tamburi district, people prefer not to know. They’re afraid of going to the doctor. Every other medical check-up reveals a tumour, a leukaemia or perhaps a malignant stomach polyp. Every family has at least one cancer victim. In some cases, cancer has virtually wiped the family out.

Francesco Fanelli has lost his father, his mother, his grandparents, two siblings, his first wife, an uncle and an aunt. When myeloid leukaemia struck his eldest daughter, barely eleven years old, Francesco broke down and wept. From one day to the next, he made up his mind it was time to get out of Tamburi. “I took on a €100,000 mortgage – at my age – rather than watch helplessly as everyone died”, he says.

Francesco set up an association. It’s called “9 luglio 1960”, the day they started building the ILVA complex at Tamburi. We call it Year Zero, “when gardens, orchards, streams and the healthful breezes were replaced by this huge industrial complex”. Taranto-born actor and poet Ettore Toscano well remembers the wounds the territory suffered when Tamburi was transformed. Before, kids with asthma or minor respiratory problems were sent to Tamburi to get some fresh air. Now residents are fleeing.

POISON IN THE AIR AND WATER – ILVA’s toxins have seeped into every home, every patch of soil and every stretch of water. Fabio Matacchiera, an activist from the Fondo Antidiossina Taranto Onlus, says: “Twenty years ago, we collected marine sediment samples at the ILVA waste outlets. The lab results were unequivocal. It was hazardous toxic waste”.

Two decades on, we asked him to repeat the experiment. He scraped the sea bed with a net and extracted a thick, black, oil-like liquid. Any whiff of the sea is smothered by the stench of oil. A rubber glove used to transfer the liquid into the testers bursts on contact with the substance.

The samples were then sent to a specialist laboratory in Venice. What we took for oil is in fact a deadly mixture of PCBs, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heavy metals. Mr Matacchiera notes that “what leaps to your attention is the massive presence of benzo(a)pyrene. It’s a category 1 contaminant. The quantity here is more than 92,000 micrograms per kilogram dry weight. To give you some idea, contact with this pollutant is equivalent to smoking about 2,000 cigarettes in a year”.

ACUTE INFANT LEUKAEMIA – Little Lorenzo may well have breathed all this in. When he was three months old, doctors found a five-centimetre tumour in his head. “The cancer was bigger than his little head”, recalls Fr Mauro Zaratta, who has also been forced to move away from Taranto.

The head of the haematology department at Taranto’s Santissima Annunziata hospital says: “We’ve got twice the incidence of acute infant leukaemia in comparison with the rest of Italy. How could anyone fail to notice? I despair. For ten years, I’ve been reporting the increase in these diseases but the only response I’ve had from politicians and institutions is that I’m medical scaremonger. Now they ought to know that 40% of these children with acute leukaemia will not pull through. The children will die after a few months. And often these infants are not even one year old”.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Foreign Affairs; Government
KEYWORDS:
Gruppo Riva is an Italian steel producer. In 1995 Riva Acciaio purchased ILVA, the largest Italian state-owned steel producer, becoming one of the main European steel companies. The Ilva plant in Taranto is the largest steelworks in Europe, equipped with five blast furnaces.
1 posted on 09/28/2012 11:45:40 AM PDT by DeaconBenjamin
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To: DeaconBenjamin

“In 1995 Riva Acciaio purchased ILVA, the largest Italian state-owned steel producer”

so why didn’t the locals sue the government of Italy, when they still owned the plant (can Italians sue their government for damages from a state owned enterprise)

but of course now it’s privately owned, so sue, sue, sue

full disclosure - I have no view on the actual pollution

I’m just sayin - the whole thing seems to have started with the government of Italy


2 posted on 09/28/2012 4:21:02 PM PDT by Wuli
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