A portrait of the Land of Fires, the strength of its inhabitants, their attachment to their origins and their battles to heal their land by Stefano Schirato.
I’ve been working for years on a large project focused on the connection between pollution and diseases due to unhealthy environmental conditions. In 2011 I documented the effects of the Ilva industrial plant in Taranto on the people who live near the factory. In the same year, on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the explosion of the nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl power plant, I focused on the illegal traffic of radioactive material.
In 2015 I started working at my project Terra Mala, documenting the complex situation of the area called Land of Fires, located in Campania, between the provinces of Caserta and Naples, the most polluted of the region because of millions tons of toxic waste illegally disposed on this territory for over thirty years. Thanks to the help of Father Maurizio Patriciello – priest of the parish of San Paolo al Parco Verde in Caivano and one of the main activists of the area – I collected testimony of those citizens who fight so that the poisoning of the Land of Fires will not be forgotten.
I have documented the daily life of dozens of families aware of the risks they run for their health. I portrayed the degradation of the territory, the nomad camps authorized to be built on rubbish heaps; men, women and children forced to live everyday on a toxic land. I could record the terrifying size of illegal landfills, piles of underground poisons, just a few meters far from the houses.
Back in 1991 Mario Tamburino, an Italian-Argentine truck driver, was admitted to the hospital in Pozzuoli due to a sudden eye irritation, so intense that he couldn’t see properly. He soon become completely blind. His serious eye damage was caused by the drops of a corrosive substance leaking out from the 571 barrels he was transporting from a company specialized in disposal of toxic waste in Cuneo (Piemonte, north of Italy) to Sant’Anastasia countryside in Naples where the hazardous cargo of the track had to be unloaded.
An investigation followed, the word ECOMAFIA was created and the multibillion illegal business between the Mafia and some entrepreneurs from Northen Italy came to light.
Two years earlier, in 1989 at “La Lanterna” restaurant in Villaricca, some Camorra and Mafia exponents signed an evil treaty with local politicians, corrupted members of secret services and of the Masonic Lodge P2 to bury millions tons of toxic waste in Campania. Everyone received their share of benefits. A real large-scale garbage industry, organized the expenses of the local populations.
With the contributions of: • Father Maurizio Patriciello (the priest symbol of the fight against pollution in Campania) • Prof. Antonio Giordano (oncologist, Director of Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine, Temple University di Philadelphia ) • Arianna Rinaldo (Photoeditor & Artistic Director of Cortona On The Move + PhEst)