Another Mafia Gift: Toxic Waste, Cancer Clusters
Italy vows to crack down, but the damage is widespread
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 30, 2014 1:05 PM CST

(Newser) – It seems that when the Italian mafia isn't killing 3-year-olds or threatening the pope, its henchmen are busy illegally burying toxic waste. A New York Times story today reports that the Camorra crime family has buried millions of tons of the stuff—from asbestos sheets to industrial-strength glue—since the early 1990s in a region known as the Triangle of Death north of Naples. It's a lucrative line of business, reports the AFP in an earlier story, even if a spate of studies has found clusters of cancer cases to be on the rise in the area.

"The environment here is poisoned," says a researcher who documented one such cluster in the Lancet medical journal a decade ago. "It's impossible to clean it all up. The area is too vast." The dumping and subsequent health risks have been documented over the years—in fact, the US Navy, which has Americans stationed in Naples, completed a 2008 study that determined US forces there should exclusively use bottled water—but the impetus for the story is a new government promise to crack down. Authorities, based on information provided by two mafia men who became informants, have begun excavations near the town of Casal di Principe, reports the BBC.