Italy releases environmental report on Campania region
June 21, 2009
NAPLES, Italy — A multi-year environmental assessment of the Campania region of southern Italy paints a rather bleak portrait, according to Italian environmental and health officials.
The report notes a staggering increase in the number of illegal and toxic garbage sites, the amount of toxic algae in the sea and the continuing impact of greenhouse gases. It also reports 17 percent of Campania’s 318-mile coastline is off limits to swimmers because of illegal dumping of sewage and inefficient water purification plants.
The Agenzia Regionale per la Protezione Ambientale della Campania, or ARPAC, the regional equivalent to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, on Monday released the results of comprehensive environmental studies done between 2005 and 2008.
Roughly 4,000 U.S. military and civilian personnel and their families live among the 5.8 million residents of Campania, the second-most inhabited region in Italy, according to the 2008 census. Naples is the region’s capital, with a little more than 3 million people; the province of Caserta, with 901,000 residents, is second in population in the region.
ARPAC’s environmental assessment is unrelated to a long-term health assessment being conducted by the U.S. Navy. The Navy’s public health evaluation, which started in February 2008, is studying whether assignments to Naples endanger the health of troops and their families.
Health concerns have plagued the Italian metropolis for decades. The city and its surrounding areas have endured years of crises: uncollected trash; illegal burning of garbage; dumping of toxic waste; and reports of a rise in cancer rates and respiratory problems.
Navy officials were still translating the 436-page report Friday, and then must review it before they can comment, base spokesman Cmdr. Jeff McAtee said. The report, in Italian, is posted on the Web at: www.arpacampania.it/pubblicazioni.asp.
Italian experts studied air, water, soil, electromagnetic emissions and trash dump sites, among other elements.
The number of contaminated or potentially contaminated garbage sites doubled over a three-year period: from 2,599 in 2005 to 5,281 in 2008. Caserta recorded the largest increase in the number of sites of illegally discarded refuse, from 417 in 2005 to 851, the report notes. It does not document possible reasons behind the increase.
The report noted that antipollution efforts have succeeded in reducing by 17 percent the emission of greenhouse gases in Naples province between 1990 and 2005. However, Caserta province saw an increase over that same period, though it does not note the exact percentage increase.
About 25 percent of the region’s rivers were deemed “inferior” or “very bad” for pollution levels, with “most critical situations regarding the Regi Lagni,” reads an executive summary. The waterway lies near the town of Casal di Principe — inhabited by many U.S. military personnel and their families.
About 64 percent of the region’s underground water pockets that serve as sources of drinking water is “valued” or “good,” the report notes, much of it in the mountain regions.