Free Trieste Movement




For 50 years, the province of Trieste has been one of the strongholds of Cold War in Europe.
Here is where a particular system of government has been created: that was necessary to cover up the delicate activities taking place in special zone “Adriatic littoral”. A true free trade zone, where  illegal traffics, espionage headquarters and their networks abounded. Like a wedge in enemy land.

A conquered land, to be accurately kept under control. For decades, this was the role assigned by Italian foreign policy to Trieste, under a provisional regime entrusted to the Italian Government under the Memorandum of Understanding of London of 1954. And, to realize such objectives, a complete, operating structure was necessary, meaning all the key positions of both civil and military life had to be involved in it. Such a powerful structure has never been completely deactivated, not even after the dissolution of the former enemy (the block of Communist Countries).

In fact, maintaining this net remains necessary to try hiding what has been done in these lands during the years of the Cold War. So, this is why in the province of Trieste, often portrayed as a special “happy oasis” where the criminal rate is one of the lowest on a national [Italian] basis, the presence of defense forces remains massive (Polizia di Stato, Carabinieri, Italian finance police/Guardia di Finanza).

Also, there still are military bases, “converted” to touristic purposes (yet, remaining under the management of the army) and, often, “former” headquarters of the ECM (electronic countermeasures, interceptions and spying), which seem to perfectly suit the needs of these cells of deviated services (meaning the “parallel” security services such as Gladio 2) result to be still operating in this border area, usually fulfilling the duty to contrast the actual politics of the NATO.

What does actually have to be hidden with so much energy are the side effects of the Cold War in Trieste and its surroundings. Permanent side effects, since we are talking about an epochal environmental disaster carried on in the shadows by these deviated powers.

And, if it were time to seriously investigate that, from this unpleasant past, undesired ghosts could rise. Because in these dumping sites which were realized ranging from the plateau of the Karst to the sea there is not just “ordinary” waste. There even – especially – is the “special” kind, just to testify the intense activity conduced by this deviated system of power.

Operation Attila

The exploitation of this territory as a special State dumping site begins at the end of 1950s, short after the then Zone A of the Free Territory of Trieste was sub-entrusted to the temporary civil administration of the Italian government.

Through an accurate preparation, public administrations decide to realize huge dumping sites, starting with the coastal strips to then extend these to the Karst, where doline (natual valleys) and caves were especially exploited. The first phase of this operation lasted until the 1980s, when, since all the spaces available have been saturated, it became necessary finding new zones for the expansion of dumping sites. The only possibility left is the gulf of Trieste.

Coastal dumping sites are then expanded, waste is dumped right in the sea and then pushed off. Yet, that is not enough. The projects to realize disturbing garbage islands are brought out. The first one should be located 3 miles away from the coast, between Aurisina and Grado. The intention seems to be turning the gulf of Trieste in a kind of national paradise for waste. The Mafias are interested in this. Politics is their grantor. But the international scenario changes.

The 1990s bring with them the dissolution of both Yugoslavia and the Warsaw pact. New nations are established and alliances change. The former enemies are now allies. The Italian system to contrast the oriental zones is in crisis and Operation Attila must be ended. Or so it seems, because public administration still benefits of the covering received by the net that had been created, so they realize the last dumping sites of the system in early 2000.

Mode of processing

The functioning of this system for waste disposal was very simple and effective. On the Karst, doline were filled (along with dismissed pits) until being leveled or turned into hills. Above that, a stratus of dirt was applied and a forced re-naturalization (plantation of vegetable essences) was performed, even vineyards were made this way (and sponsored as agricultural works).

Caves (in Venezia Giulia, more than 300 of caves are either polluted of obstructed) were mainly used for liquid waste (hydrocarbons, acids, industrial sludge) or for the most dangerous hazardous waste (explosives, radioactive material) which had to disappear without leaving tracks. Caves were also used as storage for the weapons of the system. It was right from the accidental discovery of one of these stocks in Aurisina – back in 1972 – that officially emerged the existence of the so called “Gladio”.

On the coasts, dumping sites were realized discharging waste right in the sea with increasing constancy. These interventions were defined as fill-in and they involved the whole coast arch from Barcola (meaning in the middle of a seaside resort) to the border with Slovenia (Muggia) going through the port of Trieste. About 30 kilometers of coastal dumping sites. Above such dumping sites, enterprises, industries, docks, leisure-time activities have been settled along with sea resorts.

Another kind of dumping sites is represented by these in the inland, located between the plateau of the Karst and the coast. The two biggest ones have been obtained filling-in the humid zones (valleys) of the estuaries of torrents Rosandra and Ospo, transforming these in industrial zones and, above these, 350 companies have been settled.

Both valleys, especially that of the Noghere, have absorbed millions of cube meters of hazardous waste. In the Noghere valley alone, the ground has been lifted up, reaching an average depth of 2-3 meters (in some place, up to 7 meters).
All of this has been realized with the perfect coordination of public administration and national [Italian] institutions. The office of government/Prefettura, the public prosecutor’s office/Procura della Repubblica, the magistrate’s court/Pretura were all involved in planing this. Special waste was escorted by the Public Defense forces in person, as well as by men belonging to the secret services.

The port of Trieste* played a key role in the whole operation, being it the logistic bases for all the traffics conduced by the system. A port of shadows for all dirty business of the State of Italy, at the expenses of the Free Territory of Trieste.

From the website of transnational,  environmentalist organization “Greenaction Transnational”

(it has an interesting “document” section in Italian)

*In 1900, Trieste was the main port of the Austrian-Hungarian empire (Trieste has been a part of it for 536 years), the 2nd in the Mediterranean and the 3rd of Europe. In 81 years of Italian control, degradation had been overwhelming and, by now, despite being one of the only international ports in Europe, this one has shifted to the 40th position on European basis, experimenting a vertical collapse of its traffics. 

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