Illegal waste dumping
Camorra's multi-billion-dollar racket in disposing of toxic waste is responsible for rising cancer cases.MARIO LAPORTA/AFP/Getty Images

For decades, the Sicilian mafia has been responsible for illegally dumping toxic waste in the region north of Naples, Italy. In 2014, it emerged that leading politicians knew about the issue but turned a blind eye, ignoring the health hazards due to it.

Now, an Italian parliament-mandated health survey has reported that the toxic waste dumping has resulted in a spike in cases of cancer and sickness-related deaths in and around Naples.

The report by the National Institute of Health points out that there has been a rise in the number of babies in the region being hospitalised within the first year of their births because of tumours, especially brain tumours. The report stresses that it is "critical" to address the health issues due to "exposure to a combination of environmental contaminants that can be emitted or released from illegal hazardous waste dump sites and/or the uncontrolled burning of both urban and hazardous waste".

The Camorra mob's multi-billion dollar racket in disposing of toxic waste has had an adverse effect on the residents of the region. Poison from the dump site seeps into the ground and pollutes the well water, while burning of the garbage spreads the toxins in the air.

The areas of Naples and Campania have over the years been nicknamed "The Land of Fires" "Land of Poison" and "The Triangle of Death". These places have seen an abnormal number of cancer cases along with lung carcinoma and birth defects, much above the national average.

The Italian environmental protection association, Legambiente, claimed in its 2014 Ecomafia Report that an estimated 11.6 million tons of waste was buried illegally in the region since the 1990s.

Illegal toxic waste dumping is not confined to this region. Enrico Fontana, Legambiente spokesperson and the journalist who coined the term "ecomafia," stated in a 2011 interview with The Independent: "It's happening now in Lombardy (the region around the northern city of Milan).'Ndrangheta (a mafia-type criminal organisation) is dumping toxic waste there in or at places where homes and offices are being constructed. The ecomafia is a virus that poisons the environment, pollutes the economy and endangers people's health."