Toxic: Napoli

Toxic: Napoli

2009, Environment  -   9 Comments
Ratings: 8.13/10 from 31 users.

In the city of Naples, Italy, the Mafia has controlled the waste-management industry for decades - dumping and burning trash across its rolling hills and vineyards. In 1994, the European Union declared the situation an official environmental emergency, and things have only gotten worse since then.

When VICE investigated the situation they found mutated sheep, poisoned mozzarella, alarming rates of cancer, and pissed off farmers ready to push back against the Camorra, Italy's most powerful and dangerous criminal organization (and the government that enables it).

At the beginning of 2008, world news outlets were flooded with images of garbage piles in the streets of Naples. The newly reelected premier, Silvio Berlusconi, made countless TV appearances, personally picking up trash and promising to resolve the situation.

Naples and the entire Campania region had been officially declared an environmental crisis over 14 years ago. The garbage piles were just a current distraction from the real emergency. Almost 8 million tons of rubbish stockpiled throughout the region, illegal toxic waste dumps, a serious human health crisis, and behind it all, the largest criminal organization in Italy, the Neapolitan Camorra.

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9 Comments / User Reviews

  1. David Dieni

    What makes this criminal activity possible? Capitalist private property, and white-mans insane denial

  2. PLsmscientist

    Nothing new. The people of southern Italy have the destiny into their own hands. They chose the Mafia, the deserve the garbage and corruption. One would expect 100,000 people taking part to a demonstration, instead there are a few hundred or maybe 1,000. The others are culturally worth garbage and / or are complete cowards.

  3. John Defalque

    I feel so sad for the sheep herders, I always thought Berlesconi was like Il Duce light, but now I hate him even more for seeing how the good folks of Naples have to suffer as Italy's dumping ground.

  4. Francisco Sá

    One more reason to vote in modern democracies...

  5. wald0

    Wow, such a beautiful place to be ruined in such a needless way. Not to mention the people harmed, this is outrageous. La cosa nostra should have more respect for their own homeland. What happened to honor among thieves, this is shameful.

  6. Edward Campbell

    NAPLES: I was there in Feb 2011. It was the filthiest city in my Med. cruise of 18 days, with rotting mattresses on the pavement outside a hostel. Barrier fencing round a hole in the pavement full of rubbish. Sheets of plastic, metres long strewn across the pavement. Damaged road accident bollards and rails. Every where you looked was delapidation, decay and litter. It was a depressing dump. It is also the most dangerous city in Europe for pedestrians. I got run over, to boot. Lucky to be alive.

    1. Anthony Silkworm Mckeough

      Such a short sighted view. I wouldn't disagree that the city is filthy, and practically 3rd world in places, but you might not be so quick to tar somewhere like India or Africa with the same brush. It's far from a "depressing dump", and regardless of your opinions on such matters it's about as real an experience of what's going on within the underbelly of Italy as anywhere could be. The people are great, the food is fantastic (and cheap) and the markets are packed with just about everything you could think of. It's probably the most vibrant and interesting place (for good and bad reasons) and shouldn't be ruled out of your travel itinerary, unless you want to stick to the well worn tourist routes like the others. Next time, stick to Rome maybe, I'm sure the Guardian does a package holiday to suit you. Oh and look before you cross the road, this IS Italy.

    2. Edward Campbell

      I suggest you have Rose Tinted Glasses, young sir.

      Naples is run by the Mafia - well video documented, along with You Tube street assassinations. You weren't there to witness the wind banks of litter, trail of grime; unrepaired street furniture, and road damage; holes in the pavement (meshed-off and filled with rubbish); and building decay; the whole length of the sea front I walked - about a mile and a half south from the ship’s dock.

      Traversing any zebra crossing in Naples, or even on the pavement, (during the rush hour - pavement motor cyclists), almost guarantees getting run over.

      In an EC 30 city survey throughout Europe, including Eastern Europe (Budapest got 90 points), Naples got ZERO - they even park across the front of zebra crossings.!

      While I was 5 hours in hospital, 2 local Neapolitans came in on stretchers. One run over on a pedestrian crossing, the other knocked off his motor bike. Out of 8 Italian cities I visited, Naples was not even in my rating of ‘ever wanting to return’. Yes, it has some good architecture, a beautiful bay further south, and of course, Pompeii and Vesuvius, but within the underbelly of the 5 million metropolitan population of the city itself, is a heaving cesspit of humanity's dregs. I have dozens of photos to prove it, and a video.

      All I wanted was a pizza - what I got was six broken ribs and a cracked sternum, a torn left knee, and my head bounced off the cobbles of Corso Giuseppi Garibaldi.

      I saw no: street cleaner; traffic warden; or even a street policeman; (protecting the pedestrian ship’s passengers from 4 blatant pick pockets, at the end of the dock), in 2 hours of walking along the filthy sea front for 3 miles from the ship to the hospital, and back.

  7. Trevis Robotie

    Oh no!This used to be my city,region,school and more.....11 years spent here;high school ,Academy of Fashion and Academy of theFine Arts.Very warm hearted people(and coldblooded murderers)....too warm!Crimes and criminals are considered as normal!Took me so long to get used to this mentality,and honestly,maybe I never really got used to it and so I eventually left.
    I can't remember living the 'refuse' experience while shuttling from Salerno to Naples every day.(50 km to and fro)Back then in the 80s,it was quite clean but,in the whole region Camorra reigned supreme no doubt!feuds were frequent and it's not unusual to hear of the assassination of people living in my own neighborhood !I remember the local sub-bosses continualy tried to recruit me as a pusher.I never yielded probably because I wasn't cut out for delinquency and moreover I had honest means of sustainment.

    Now the refuse,toxic or non,is fast becoming an emergency in many italian cities.Naples sticks out like a sore thumb mainly because illegal dumping by the camorra has been going on for ever.Dumping grounds are getting more and more scarce,and in desperation they take necessary risks,dumping in the open country fields.People are dying,the conniving farmers (out of fear or bribery) can no longer stay blind and's one big mess down south !