ILLEGAL LANDFILL OF MICOROSA - BRINDISI 50 hectares of staggering pollution. Along with the Bussi- Valpescara site in the region of Abruzzi, Montedison's legacy continues to contaminate the country.
Brindisi, 23/06/2014 BRINDISI: NATIONAL SITE OF INTEREST FOR RECLAMATION ACTIVITIES The area of Brindisi and surroundings has been declared as a high environmental-crisis-risk one since 1990, in accordance with law 349/1986. This statement was then reconfirmed in 1997 and enlarged to the municipalities of Carovigno, San Pietro Vernotico and Torchiarolo, with the town of Cellino San Marco being added to the list in 2002. The Presidential Decree issued on April 23, 1998 approved a plan for the environmental clean-up aimed at the reclamation of the area. Brindisi was identified as a Site of national interest (Italian acronym, "SIN") for environmental reclamation activities, and the area was delimited on January, 10th, 2000, with a decree of the Ministry of Environment in agreement with the Municipality of Brindisi, with the aim of carrying out characterisation, safety measures implementation, reclamation, environmental remediation and monitoring activities. The SIN of Brindisi covers an area of approximately 5,700 hectares over land and 5,600 hectares over the sea, and a coastline of around 18 miles. The latter includes the industrial area and the port in its entirety, as well as the coast between trunk road n. 613 on the west side, and the municipality border, over the Enel thermoelectric power plant of Cerano, on the south side, and is composed of three different production areas: Al suo interno si possono individuare tre distinte aree produttive: - The industrial and manufacturing area, which includes several sites of different nature, managed by the A.S.I. consortium and located in the north-west of the SIN, adjacent to the city; - -The petrochemical complex, extending towards east, across the Fiume Grande river, comprising of several companies, including Versalis s.p.a. (formerly Polimeri Europa) and Syndial s.p.a.; - Enel's Cerano power plant, located at the far south of the site Within the centre of the SIN are a large agricultural area, which is crossed by the coal-transport line over a length of approximately 7 miles, and the regional natural park “Saline di Punta della Contessa” (Regional law 28/2002). MICOROSA INDUSTRIAL DUMPING SITE The area is named after Micorosa s.r.l., the company which bought it over from the Montedison group in 1992, with the aim of using it for the recovery of previously dumped sludges and for the production of hydrated lime. These operations were carried out between 1994 and 1995, before the company went bankrupt and closed down in 2000. The Micorosa area covers approximately 50 hectares of land. It is located within the industrial area, south of the petrochemical site, and within the natural regional park “Saline di Punta della Contessa”. The area was used for the disposal of slash from the petrochemical site, with a layer of material of between 2 and 7 metres and a volume of approximately 1.5 million cubic metres. It was only upon request of the municipality of Brindisi, in 2010, that the area underwent an environmental characterisation process, in view of the upcoming projects for its safety implementation plan and reclaiming (SOGESID project), presented in mid-2013.
Investigations brought up the presence of waste, mostly comprising of calcium hydroxide, and a widespread, high-level pollution of both the soil and the underlying aquifer, denoting the presence of hydrocarbons, chlorobenzenes, heavy metals, and an extremely high concentration of cancerogenic elements. Some of these, such as the chlorinated aliphatic compounds, were million-times higher than the legal limit. As such, the Micorosa area can be considered an enormous illegal dumping site for special and hazardous industrial waste, largely uncontrolled, that has been painfully neglected over the course of the last 30 years. In 2013, Province authorities issued an injunction towards several companies for the implementation of safety procedures in the area. However, these companies successfully appealed the injunction to the Regional Administrative Court (TAR) division of Lecce (http://www.giustiziaamministrativa.it/DocumentiGA/Lecce/Sezione%201/2013/201300989/Provvedimenti/201400339_01.XML The appeal was granted in three similar judgements, based exclusively on the fact that the letter had been sent by the Province as opposed to the Ministry of Environment, which is the competent authority for national reclamations. However, at the same time, the court confirmed the content of the note and collected the transfers of ownerships and responsibilities of those involved. The Court also stated that (TN, the following is a translation of the original Court statements, recorded in Italian): “As per the challenged deed, it is safe to state that there is a liabilities of the companies that comprise, due to merging and/or acquisition, the different Companies that held ownership over the area" and that should be considered "joint responsible for the area's pollution" (see operative section of the Province order). It is not possible to relieve of responsibility the party that has caused such contamination, in the case where it is an industrial company that made use of the property, and sold the company itself (becoming insolvent), as well as the assignee, claiming not to have any responsibility nor to be subject to any obligation to carry out reclamation in quality of owner.” In spite of such judging, that made clearer the responsibilities of privates and the legal provisions imposing (or rather, that should impose) the "polluters pay" principle, in March 2014 the Ministry of Environment signed a program agreement with Syndial, also involving the city of Brindisi as well as regional authorities of Puglia, for the emergency safety operations in the area, worth EUR 68M. Only EUR 20M of these come from private companies.. The agreement caters for a 50-hectare capping and a hydraulic barrier, as well as soil aquifer treatment across the area. The history of the landfill (Description adapted from the safety procedure project report) 4.1 Classification of the area The Micorosa area is located within the industrial area of the municipality of Brindisi, as part of the Petrochemical site, and is included in the delimited region that was recognised as a site of national interest for reclaiming operations. It is adjacent to the Petrochemical complex of the city of Brindisi, that was launched in 1961 by the Montecatini company for the “treatment of 1mn tonnes of raw oil. This was used mainly to obtain distillates for the production of olefine and chemical derivatives", as per the inter-Ministry decree 2.9.1961 n. 5188, which issued the concession. Apolymerisation line (CVM-PVC) was also located in the adjacent area. This was owned by the Polymer firm, also part of the Montecatini group. In 1966, following the merging of Montecatini and Edison, the ownership of the industrial site was transferred to the newly-formed Montedison. At this time, new lines were added for the manufacturing of additional polymer plastics such as polyethylene, polypropylene and polyurethane. The Micorosa area was used for the disposal of slash from the petrochemical site's industrial process. This was followed by three different phases, linked to the dumping of different types of industrial waste: 1962-1969: calcium hydroxide sludge, residues of the acetylene production line, vinyl chloride synthetic intermediate for the production of PVC 1969-75: chloride lines (comprising of: low boiling point organochlorine compounds such as vinyl chloride, metyl chloride, 1,1-dichloroethene, 1,2-dichloroethene cis and trans; 1,2 dichloroethane; high boiling point organochlorine compounds such as trichloroethylene, trichloroethane, tetrachloroethane , pentachloroethane, hexachloroethane, bromodichloromethane; mixtures of polycyclic aromatic solvents having a boiling point of between 180°-190°C and up to 240°-250°C), residues from the production line of dichloroethane, a synthetic intermediate of Vinyl chloride for the production of PVC; 1972-80: residues of the phthalic anhydride production facility, comprising of maleic and pthalic acid.
It is assumed that dumping operations terminated at the time the industrial production site closed down (the acethylen facility closed down in 1969, the dichlorethan one closed down in 1975, and the phtalic acid one stopped working in 1980). In terms of chlorinated production, dumping operations were discontinued with the installation of storage tanks in 1973. In 1987, the Montedison group sold the area to SocietĂ Micorosa S.r.l., which starts recovering the previously-dumped sludge for the production of hydrated lime. Such operations were carried out between 1994 and 1995, and it appears that no further activities were performed within the area."
Areas' plan (from the project report)
POLLUTION STATUS The image below was copied from the safety procedure implementation project, and highlights the location of the surveys carried out in the area as part of the characterisation plan.
Ground water The aquifer reported pollution level above legal standards based on one or more parameters in all the
sampling points. Overall, 42 toxic and/or carcinogenic substances were reported to be above the legal threshold, and many cases hundreds or thousands-times higher than the latter. Below are the substances that reported the most striking overage compared to the legal thresholds (Contamination Threshold Concentrations - C.S.C. in Italian) Parameter
Value of the non-compliance with legal standards EntitĂ del superamento dei limiti di legge (C.S.C.= Concentrazione Soglia di Contaminazione Contamination Threshold Concentrations)
Has been classified as a toxic and carcinogenic agent by the EU (category 2, H351:
198,016,620 times above threshold
suspected of causing cancer) Benzene
Definitely carcinogenic (IARC), toxic, mutagen
49,653 times above threshold
Definitely carcinogenic (IARC)
7,716,250 times above threshold
Has been classified as a possible carcinogen by the EU
494,664 times above threshold
(category 1B, H350: may cause cancer) and toxic
The table below is based on the safety procedure implementation project and includes a full list of all toxic/carcinogenic substances found.
Land Plenty of samples were classifiable as special hazardous waste and not as land, with a decreasing percentage at higher depths. Those samples that were classified as "waste" were then classified in the largest majority of cases as "special hazardous waste" following the transfer tests. Many of the analysis carried out on samples of "land" also reported contamination from several toxic and/or carcinogenic substances at the same time. The table below provides a summary of the situation, collecting the most striking data alone. In terms of dioxin findings on the top soil, 10 samples within Micorosa reported higher-than-threshold levels. Within the nearby "protected oasis" (!) , 11 samples reported exceedance of PCCD/PCDF legal thresholds with value ranging from 0,0125 μg I-TE/kg to 2,757 μg I-TE/kg , versus a limit of 0,01 μg I-TE/kg. Such exceedances were reported on 7 surface samples (falling within the first 50 to 100 cm of depth from the p.c.) and 4 sub-surface samples, including sample SM11.3 taken between 2 and 3 metres below the p.c., showing a value of 0,399 μg I-TE/kg." (Excerpt of the project report. This means the level was effectively 40 times above legal threshold.). Level
C1 0-1 metres
Number of parameters above legal thresholds 38
Classification of the samples collected 154 items of waste (80%)
Hexachlorobenzene: 54 times above threshold Heavy fuel oil: 12 times above threshold
14 mixed land/waste product (7%) 25 land (13%) C2 1-4 metres
114 waste items (59%)
Vinyl chloride 32 times above threshold Benzene 190 times above threshold Monochlorobenzene 132 times above threshold
38 mixed land/waste product (20%) 41 land (21%) C3 2-5 metres
62 waste items (32%)
Benzene 47 times above threshold Trichloromethane 55 times above threshold Tetrachloroethylene 260 times above threshold
38 mixed land/waste product (20%) 93 waste items (48%) C4 3-19 metres
3 waste (3%)
1 mixed land/waste product (1%) 96 land (96%) Excerpt of the safety measure implementation project
1,1 dichloroethane 24 times above threshold Light hydrocarbons 630 times above threshold
"Based on what has been discussed so far, the contamination level reported in the sample defined as "land" that were analysed could be attributable partly to the circulation of contaminated soil aquifer below the capillary fringe, and partly to the presence/nature of "waste or mixed waste soil" above the land. This was based on the chemical-physical properties (density, solubility, vapour pressure) as well as toxicological properties of the various analytes whose concentration values were reported to be higher than the contamination threshold (for metals: arsenic, beryllium, cobalt, mercury, lead, selenium, thallium, vanadium; for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) : benz[a]anthracene, benzo(a)pyrene, dibenzo(a,e)pyrene, benzo(g,h,i)perylene, indenopyrene; for aromatic compounds: benzene, toluene, xylene and e ethylbenzene, for carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic chlorinated aliphatic compounds and for carcinogenic halogenated aliphatic compounds: dichloromethane, trichloromethane, 1,1,2,2tetrachloroethane, 1,2-dichloroethene, 1,1-dichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, trichloroethylene, vinyl chloride, 1,1-dichloroethane, 1,2-dichloroethylene; for chlorobenzenes: monochlorobenzene, 1,4dichlorobenzene, pentachlorobenzene andhexachlorobenzene; for aromatic amines: o-anisidine, m,panisidine; methylphenol (o,m,p); PCB; light and heavy hydrocarbons ). The "twin" case of the National Site of Interest of Bussi-Valpescara in the region of Abruzzi The Micorosa landfill has a sort or "twin" site in the region of Abruzzi, in the area of Valpescara, the municipalities of Bussi and Piano d'Orta, located in the province of Pescara. This are hosted from the early 900s two Montedison-Montecatini facilities for the production of solvents, sodium carbonates, tetraethyl lead and, between the two wars, even chemical weapons. This was the case of the production of sulphur mustards in the town of Bussi, located on the Apennine Mountains. Piano d'Orta hosted a fertilizer production site.
The chemical production site of Bussi Officine
Facility in Piano d'Orta
The Italian forestry department seized a 3.5-hectares landfill next to the facility and opposite the railway station in 2007. The so-called Tremonti landfill was fully non-compliant with regulations, and was locating in the gorges bearing the same name, where the Pescara river flows. This is also where the well-known chlorinated pitch and other production waste had been dumped between the 1970s and the early 1980s. According to calculations by legal authorities of Pescara, approximately 1 tonne of this waste had been dumped directly into the Pescara river in the previous years. Following the first seizure, forestry authorities also seized nearby areas just above the industrial area, along the Tirino valley, 2A e 2B, officially authorised for the management of non-hazardous waste, but also in use for hazardous one.
On the left hand side, landfills 2A e 2B and in the background the town of Bussi. On the right hand side, the Tremonti landfill the white banks are close-to-pure hexachloroethane blocks) In 2007, legal authorities of Pescara also seized the facility of Piano d'Orta, that had been abandoned in 1964 but that never underwent any reclaim or safety measure implementation process. A total of 19 managers of Montedison are currently accused of environmental disaster and water pollution in legal proceedings before the Court of assizes of Chieti. This waste has heavily polluted all the aquifer of the area as well as the S. Angelo wells, 1.2 miles downstream, which had been built in 1982. In particular, the
presence tetrachloroethylene, trichloroethylene, carbon tetrachloride, hexachloroethane, chloroform was reported. The wells were providing water to the houses of the Valpescara area, including Chieti and Pescara. During legal proceedings, it was also brought up that an internal document of Montedison had highlighted the presence of pollution from chlorinated solvents in the wells containing water for human consumption as early as 1992. Public bodies had known since 2004 at least, but the wells remained open, and the population was left unaware. As an attempt to counteract the situation, authorities installed active-carbon filters that, after a few weeks of their installation, were increasing the concentration of pollutants in water as opposed to filtering them. The reality only surfaced in 2007, thanks to private analysis and to the protests from WWF, Italian association for the defence of public water Forum dell'Acqua and the political party Rifondazione Comunista, and the wells were finally closed down. Public prosecutors have currently presented a motion for indictment for the responsible of the local health authority (ASL), the Chairman and Director of the water facility management group, as well as the Chairman of the Ambit Authority under charges of having supplied contaminated water to them population. In 2014, the Italian Higher Institute of Health (Istituto Superiore di SanitĂ ) presented a sworn expert appraisal prepared on behalf of the Public prosecutor, which estimates that 700,000 people were exposed to carcinogenic and toxic substances due to the pollution of the aquifer and to the supply of water from the S. Angelo wells. Angelo. The water supply is now operated from alternative wells, dug as an emergency solution upstream of the areas contaminated in 2007. In 2008, the Ministry of Environment has recognised the chemical complex of Bussi Officine, the dismissed facility of Piano d'Orta and the Enel basins in Valpescara, where the sediments carried by the Pescara river from Bussi downstream to the valley are trapped, as a National Site for Reclamation with a legal decree. At the end of 2001, the industrial site was bought over by Solvay, which also joined the proceedings seeking damages from Montedison managers, has it inherited the heavily-serious contamination state. The group had also flagged this up to public authorities in 2004, when it had presented the first characterisation plan.
In the upper-left corner, the residential area of Bussi In purple, landfills 2A and 2B. In yellow, the industrial area. In red, the Tremonti landfill. In green downstream, towards Pescara, the S. Angelo wells. (on the edge)
The table below shows the concentration of toxic and/or carcinogenic substances in the deep aquifer (approximately 328 feet) as well as in the surface aquifer below the facilities (data from 2009-2012)
As of 2013, 6 managers of Solvay are also under investigation upon report of the public associations and defence group, with accusations of having omitted prevention measures in the areas currently owned by the Belgian multinational. While not being responsible for the pollution, according to Public Prosecutors, the company should have tried to avoid the spreading downstream of the contaminating substances. This is linked to the fact that the â€œpump and treatâ€? pumping system activated on the far edge of the facility for the treatment of the aquifer circulating underneath the site towards outer areas was reportedly not entirely effective in decreasing contaminating substances level below legal thresholds. Landfills 2A and 2B were also seized again - the latter being a pretty unique case within the framework of criminal action taken within the country. Other than the above-mentioned malfunctioning treatment plant, the only other safety measure implementation and reclamation project until now was a capping and a sheet piling operation on the perimeter of the illegal Tremonti landfill. Both operations were carried out by a delegate Commissioner of the Government, and were heavily challenged by the public opinion and association, as well as by regional authorities. Piano d'Orta has not undertaken any operation. According to several studies by the University of Teramo, a report by the Italian Higher Institute of Health and monitoring operations by ARTA, the regional agency for environmental protection, the entire valley of Pescara is subject to a widespread pollution. In particular, a high concentration of mercury was found in the Tirino riverbed, close to the facility and extending until the sediments in the port of Pescara, 31 miles downstream. A high concentration of mercury was also confirmed in the hair of fishermen in Pescara, and the levels found in prawns collected from the area opposite Pescara were over legal limits set for food consumption. It is currently estimated that the area of Bussi includes approximately 2 million tonnes of contaminated land/waste/residues, with high, and above-legal threshold, levels of tens of hazardous substances, including dioxin, mercury, lead, arsenic, chloroform and carbon tetrachloride. Public organisations have been asking for an epidemiological survey to be carried out since 2008. However, the region does not have a cancer registry. According to a study commissioned by the regional health agency in 2012 and that only saw the light more recently thanks to the Forum dell'Acqua association, the incidence of cancer is very high in Bussi (70% more than the average regional incidence), the nearby town of Popoli, and the metropolitan area of Pescara (*18%). the study was based on the hospitalisation of citizens from all the municipalities of the region. Nothing was done for prevention or to further research this alarming data ever since 2012.
Piano d'Orta today. Piryte ashes rich in cadmium, arsenic, lead and chromium are literally in the open air, and can be easily reached by anyone being found by the side of houses and on the streets. The soil is heavily contaminated by inorganic compounds including arsenic, lead, mercury, beryllium, copper, vanadium, zinc and selenium. The values of such compounds were at times hundreds times higher than the Contamination Threshold Concentrations (CSC) set in legislative decree152/2006. The groundwater layer also reported contamination caused by substances of the same nature as the inorganic ones found in the soil.
Conclusion For the area of Brindisi, the following excerpt from the safety measure implementation project should be noted: "According to the outcome of several analyses carried out in the area of Micorosa and its surrounding, the different environmental component in question - soil, subsoil, subsoil water and interstitial water - are heavily affected. This is due to the significant pollution that spreads over the entire area. Based on a comparison of the different surveys, and in particular based on the outcome of the analysis on the soil aquifer, it becomes evident that the most contaminated areas within the Micorosa site are located on the north-eastern and south-western corners. Outside the site, the most affected areas are the southern and eastern ones. Amongst some of the most common polluting components are some heavy metals and a number of organic compounds ( hydrocarbons, chlorinated aliphatic compounds, chlorinated and non-chlorinated aromatic compounds). The reported amounts of these were at times many times higher than the Contamination Threshold Concentrations set for residential areas and subsoil water. The contamination may also be linked to the dumping of production waste in the area over the previous decades." Comitato NO Carbone Brindisi, and Forum Italiano dei Movimenti per l'Acqua have filed a legal request to assess where the responsibility for the current, staggering, pollution status of the Micorosa site lies, and how it is possible for the area to be effectively abandoned, despite the huge levels of pollution therein reported. Citizens are also requesting that: - any reclamation/safety measure implementation process be carried out by private companies or, where the state is intervening, only under the agreement to claim as a "damage" against the liable parties, with the aim of recovering any amount that public authorities may want to invest into these operations, in a similar fashion to what is happening in other comparable situations. - the Ministry of Environment and any other public bodies involved put into practice the legal Decree 195/2005 on the transparency of environmental information, thereby publishing all the documentation on Micorosa and in general on the Site of national interest of Brindisi on their websites. . This would include any report from the service conferences, analytic data from characterisation and monitoring activities, etc. It is also to be reminded that it is mandatory by law to publish any environmental information, something which so far has not been done by the Ministry of Environment. - any choices for the future of the area be taken in conjunction with citizens and committees, so that all and every options are considered, other than the filling in-loco of the waste material, with a stronger focus on the different possibilities. In relation to the Bussi-Piano d'Orta area and for the entire Valpescara area, the committees request : - the immediate start of an epidemiologic survey, as well as of measures aimed at preventing contaminationrelated illnesses; - the completion of environmental characterisation across all the areas; - the termination of the current provisional government administration status; - the reclamation of all contaminated areas, at the expenses of the liable party, based on the principle that "those who pollute, pay"; - a monitoring program of all the affected components, including water, soil, and biologic components, including humans themselves, to assess the actual contamination degree in Valpescara. This is based on the consideration that the hazardous material from Bussi could have polluted the area's lands both during the river flooding and during the use of polluted water for irrigation purposes, over the course of several decades .
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