Terra dei fuochi

by Alessandro Sala

The phrase Land of Fires identifies a large area of southern Italy, among Naples and Caserta, defined by the on-going presence of waste fires. This phrase was first introduced in 2003 inside the Rapporto Ecomafie 2003 report compiled by Legambiente association. It was subsequently chosen by Roberto Saviano as the title of the closing chapter for his non-fictional novel Gomorra.

The geographical area is roughly bounded by QualianoGiugliano in CampaniaOrta di Atella, Caivano, Acerra, Nola, Marcianise, Succivo, Frattaminore, Frattamaggiore, Mondragone, Castelvolturno and Melito di Napoli municipalities. These lands are also deployed by the Camorra, especially by the Casalesi clan, as an illegal dumping ground of toxic substances. Piles of waste, illegally discarded in the countryside or on the side of streets, are set alight  – pyres whose toxic fumes disseminate dioxin in the atmosphere.

For many decades, the campanian contryside was subject to ongoing toxic, industrial, radioactive waste incoming from north Italy and north Europe at large. The towns of Succivo, Caivano, Acerra e Giugliano in Campania in particular have endured seasons of industrial waste fires, directly responsible for a very high cancer rate (especially breast and tyroid related) that strike young women and children mainly.