So I was preparing another post on weatherization and I was searching through Digg and Peak Oil for such stories…probably on window replacement or maybe weather stripping and I came across this WTF story that I just had to post.
Mafia ‘sank ships of toxic waste’
By Duncan Kennedy
BBC News, Italy
A shipwreck apparently containing toxic waste is being investigated by authorities in Italy amid claims that it was deliberately sunk by the mafia.
An informant from the Calabrian mafia said the ship was one of a number he blew up as part of an illegal operation to bypass laws on toxic waste disposal.
The sunken vessel has been found 30km (18 miles) off the south-west of Italy.
The informant said it contained “nuclear” material. Officials said it would be tested for radioactivity.
Murky pictures taken by a robot camera show the vessel intact and alongside it are a number of yellow barrels.
Labels on them say the contents are toxic.
The informant said the mafia had muscled in on the lucrative business of radioactive waste disposal.
But he said that instead of getting rid of the material safely, he blew up the vessel out at sea, off the Calabrian coast.
He also says he was responsible for sinking two other ships containing toxic waste.
Experts are now examining samples taken from the wreck.
An official said that if the samples proved to be radioactive then a search for up to 30 other sunken vessels believed scuttled by the mafia would begin immediately.
Tree Hugger and the New York Times adds this:
Somewhere out there are more toxic waste ships waiting to be found. Photo: Peter Rohleder via flickr.
This may sound like a pretty good TV crime show plot, but this is non-fiction: Reuters reports that Italian authorities have discovered a ship containing 180 barrels of toxic waste (some of which may be radioactive), which was purposely sunk by the Mafia, off Italy’s southern coast. What’s more, it’s suspected there are 32 more vessels waiting to be found:
The ship was discovered after a former member of the ‘Ndrangheta organized crime organization tipped off police — the informant was personally responsible for sinking this ship and two others.
The 360′-long vessel is about 18 miles off the coast of Calabria, in 1600′ of water. Based on TV images, at least one barrel has fallen off the ship and it now empty on the sea floor.
Since tighter environmental regulations in the 1980s, illegal dumping of toxic waste has been embraced by the Mafia as another lucrative income stream.
Mafia Has Used Somalia As Dumping Ground for 20 Years
Here’s the broader connection here: Since the 1990s the Mafia have been known to dump toxic waste in the waters off Somalia — where the utter lack of government means it costs one-tenth that of dumping in Europe. In 2004, toxic and radioactive waste washed up on Somali beaches, causing illness in local people. This toxic waste dumping is also cited by local fisherman as contributing to declining fish stocks in the region, thereby pushing people to piracy.
The New York Times and the Associated Press adds this:
Giordano said the former mobster, Francesco Fonti, from the Calabria-based ‘ndrangheta crime syndicate, has claimed the mob sank ”hundreds” of barrels of illegally disposed of waste.
The prosecutor, based in Paola, Calabria, has promised that if analyses do turn up toxic substances, the hunt would be on for more sunken ships.
Fonti claims mobsters made millions of dollars illegally dumping radioactive and other toxic wastes for northern Italian businesses. Fonti has said he himself has been involved in the alleged sinking of three vessels, including the ship the robotic diver is now filming.
In recent interviews, Fonti’s face was blackened out to protect his identity, since he is under state protection.
Fonti claims the ship being filmed was carrying 120 barrels of radioactive waste when he alleged he used explosives to sink it some 20 miles (32 kilombers) off the Calabrian coast in 1992.
Investigators have long looked into claims that Italy’s southern-based crime syndicates, including the Naples-area Camorra and the ‘ndrangheta ran illegal rackets disposing of toxic wastes, including in clandestine land dumps.
The plot of the Italian hit movie ”Gomorrah” revolved around a Camorra racket that dumped toxic refuse in farmland near Naples.
Greenpeace and the Italian environmental group Lega Ambiente have been compiling lists over the last few decades of ships that have disappeared off Italy and Greece as they pursue reports of boats laden with toxic substances being sunk.
A Greenpeace official, Alessandro Gianni, told Associated Press Television News in an interview Tuesday that in the ’90s, his organization tried to learn the fate of ships that might have been involved in toxic dumping.
So that is the story of Somalian Piracy…Since the various organized crime families are world wide now how much of this has been going on. The Russians sank a Chinese Ship in January. Another Russian Ship went “astray” in July. Has the Mafia turned the high seas into their personal toxic dumping ground? Better question to ask is, did Big Businesses like the Nuclear Power Plants of the world turn to the Mafia to dump their toxic waste…hmmmmm?