ROME — A health survey mandated by Italy’s Parliament has confirmed higher-than-normal incidents of death and cancer among residents in and around Naples, because of decades of toxic-waste dumping by the local Camorra mob.
The report by the National Institute of Health said it was “critical” to address the rates at which babies in the provinces of Naples and Caserta are being hospitalized in the first year of life for “excessive” instances of tumors, especially brain tumors.
The report, which updated an initial study in 2014, blamed the higher-than-usual rates on “ascertained or suspected exposure to a combination of environmental contaminants that can be emitted or released from illegal hazardous waste dump sites and/or the uncontrolled burning of both urban and hazardous waste.”
Residents have long complained about adverse health effects from the dumping, which has poisoned the underground wells that irrigate the farmland that provides vegetables for much of central and southern Italy. Over the years, police have sequestered dozens of fields because their irrigation wells contained high levels of lead, arsenic and the industrial solvent tetrachloride.
Authorities say the contamination is the result of the Camorra’s multibillion-dollar racket in disposing of toxic waste, mainly from industries in Italy’s wealthy north that ask no questions about where the garbage goes as long as it is taken off their hands — for a small fraction of the cost of legal disposal. In recent years, Camorra turncoats have revealed how the mafia racket works, directing police to specific sites where toxic garbage was dumped.
In 2014, the Italian Parliament passed a law mandating that the National Institute of Health, a public institution under the Health Ministry, report on the rates of death, hospitalization and cancer in the 55 municipalities in the “Land of Fires.”
The new report, released Wednesday with little fanfare, confirmed what residents have long known, the Rev. Maurizio Patriciello, wrote Saturday in Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, which has long advocated on behalf of the area’s residents.
“Can we claim victory? Absolutely not,” he wrote. “In this shameful, sad and painful story, we have lost everything. The government above all.”