SS 613

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An italian environmental disaster

The Apulia region is that portion of the italian territory that includes the southern peninsula between the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea that graphically represents the heel of the boot. This region, in recent years, has enjoyed the highest touristic boom in its history. All this favored by the heavenly sea, the coast remained almost wild and low prices. A huge development especially on the most southern portion of the peninsula, the Salento. At the same time the region was crossed by controversies involving the indiscriminate industrial development. The case of Taranto’s ILVA has created a popular riots in a position to take the case in the spotlight of national politics. But there are situations more dangerous on the environment virtually ignored by the national public opinion that represent a serious threat for the locals and for the territory.A study conducted by ARPA brings prominence as Puglia is the region with the largest industrial emissions in Italy. Water conditions are no better. Biologists who analyzed samples from coastal waters reported critical results.

The highway 613 connecting Brindisi to Lecce, through small villages that are located in an area between the industrial area of Brindisi (including among others the ENI’s petrochemical complex, EdiPower, the pharmaceutical factory SANOFI AVENTIS, S.F.I.R. sugar factory, the airport, the harbour and a series of abandoned or seizure factories) to the west and the coal’s thermal power plant Enel Federico II to the east. The Federico II is located in the town of Cerano. With an area of 270 hectares, it is the second largest power plant in Italy and one of the largest in Europe. According to the 2011 European Environment Agency’s report "Revealing the costs of air pollution from industrial facilities in Europe", the central is ranked at the eighteenth place in Europe for the environmental and health costs (500-700 millions of euro ) produced by its emissions, at the first in Italy in terms of coal’s dioxide emissions and in eighth place among the most polluted industrial centers of the continent. Coal moves through one of the longest conveyor belts in Europe. 13 km that connect the central to the port of Brindisi, able to transfer to the central 2,000 tons of coal per hour. The path, so long, guarantees a dispersion of the powders. The cooling of equipment instead, takes place using a massive amount of water collected and then fed back into the sea, at the highest temperatures. The construction of the canal passing through the conveyor belt was performed, for most of the route, 15 meters underground, drying up of the water table for 6 or 7 meters, causing the drying up of farmland and water pollution. The consequences are the need to use salt water depth, then a huge cost to farms and the salinization of soils that become unusable.Today, whole families of farmers must every day supply of drinking water going to Tuturano, a village located 5 km far. In 2007 it was imposed a ban on cultivation of an area of four acres adjacent to the central, the destruction of the contaminated food and the close of business for sixty farmers. In 2011 the entire area of Micorosa was banned, fifty acres of "regional protected area" in which there were found underground tons of waste. There were also required numerous surveys to explain the high rates of carcinogens present: arsenic, cadmium, chromium, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and benzene cover the area and are transported by the winds even at long distances. In Brindisi infants with birth defects are 18% higher than the European average, those with cardiovascular malformations are over 68% more. Scientists at the National Research Council found that there is a correlation between neonatal malformations and a pollutant substance produced by industrial activity: the sulfur dioxide (SO2), a compound that comes from the burning of oil and coal. Also alarming is the situation in Torchiarolo (the town closest to the central). Here the level of PM10 is the highest of all the region and cancer deaths have reached a disturbing level. The environmental situation is also at risk in Lecce where, paradoxically, the mortality rates are higher than in Taranto and this would depend on a number of causes including the winds that carry most of the pollutants released from the smokestacks of Cerano and Ilva up Lecce. In 2012 began the trial to fifteen ENEL’s executives and two heads of contracting companies of coal’s conveyor belts of to finally clarify the responsibility of the dust pollutants dispersions.

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