THE HIDDEN LANDFILLS OF THE KARST: A TRIP TO TREBICIANO (abstract from book “Tracce di Legalità – come le mafie e le corruzioni italiane inquinano il Territorio Libero di Trieste” – “Tracks of Legality – how Italian corruptions and mafias pollute the Free Territory of Trieste” – translation not final).
« …another place where the degradation of the Karst is very visible, a little town that unfortunately is famous for being turned into a huge open-air landfill; a town that became the symbol of this unspeakable violence against an environmental World Heritage Site: Trebiciano – Trebče.
So far, the dumping site in Trebiciano is the biggest of the Triestine Karst; it is located about 1,5 Km away from the town and about 1 km away from the border with Slovenia.
It was made between 1958 and 1972 as landfill for urban solid waste, and the Municipality of Trieste managed it: it covered an area of about 120,000 square meters, spoiling and devastating its environment. At least 600,000 cubic meters of all kinds of waste were dumped in this area, filling up its main dolinas, which now appear as hills. There are sectors covered with more than 20 meters of waste. Only 500 meters away from this landfill there is the abyss of Trebiciano – Labodnica where, 329 meters in depth, flows river Timavo, which collects the waters of the Karst and supplies with new water the springs in S.Giovanni di Duino – Štivan. For limited that they were, the analysis of the early 1990s found that in the area of the dumping site there are hydrocarbons heavy metals (cadmium, mercury, nickel, lead, copper, zinc metal) and ashes, at various depth in the ground. The results of the surveys would leave any reader speechless. The soil that emerges in various areas of the dumping site has unnatural colors that range from rotten green to black, from brown to beige, a mixed white, as well as consisting of all kinds of mixed materials, including solid waste (plastics, glass, gum, metal, etc.). It sure doesn’t look like the regular Flysch that constitutes the land of the Karts.
Even the Organoleptic analysis undeniably shows that in the land there are oils, hydrocarbons, ammonia and other unidentified substances. The analyses found that in the waste there were also traces of biogas, and the inhabitants of the town reported leaks of gas from the southern side of the landfill. Due to the nature of this Karst site and the lack of any sealing, the dumping site of Trebiciano remains a serious source of contamination for the waters that ow in the underground. The pollution of hypogeal waters was not emphasized before, because in the 1960s river Timavo was not a water supply yet, and at the time analyses on the matter were very scarce. Then, in the 1970s, the level of organic pollution in the upper Timavo, which was caused by industrial dump, covered the pollution caused by the contaminated waters that were percolating from the dumping site. The organic load of the percolating waters was evaluated as equivalent to that of no less than 30,000 people.
A partial attempt to forced re-naturalization started in 1980s but it did not solve the problem of pollution at all, which is still affecting the whole area. The former dumping site of Trebiciano is a true “chemical bomb” in the middle of the Karst.
|Results of the cores taken from the area of the dumping site of Trebiciano, showing the serious level of pollution affecting that area.|
During our investigation in this “doomed” town that was sacrificed with its environment to the interests of institutionalized ecomafias, we interview many inhabitants and lm a documentary about the landfill. The people provide us precious witnesses of how the un- controlled dumping worked as well as of the problems it has caused to the town. This is how we discover that waste, the “special” waste that should have remained unnoticed was escorted by the police up to the dolmans where it would be dumped. This method seemed the same used in Italy when the State entrusts organized criminality get rid of “inconvenient” waste. However, in the Free Territory of Trieste the authorities took care of it themselves, without intermediaries. It was the Police, the Carabinieri, and the Finance Police to do it instead of the Mafia, the Camorra and the ′ndrangheta. But the result is the same: an “environmental disaster”.
Some of the inhabitants complain because public authorities allowed and even committed this shameful action, but they never cared about the effects of so much pollution on the population of Trebiciano – Trebče, which includes also an increasing rate of tumorous diseases.
As we enter the former dumping site, we find the visible, tangible evidences of the environmental disaster. We climb the “hills of shame” which are the biggest dolinas now over filled with waste: there is waste coming out of the ground. In the smaller dolinas of the area, abandoned, there are huge drums, it is probable that they were used to collect sludge. On the bottom of a dolina used to dump hydrocarbons there is an oily puddle with an unmistakable smell. It is a (unnatural) rising of oil in the middle of the Karst. Since they were closer to the town and thus to the street, some dolinas became useful potholes to dispose sewage and petrochemical refinery waste. It worked like this: the tankers would approach the chosen dolina and dump their shameful load of waste right in it. And they were allowed to do so by the Municipality of Trieste. And the fact that down here flows river Timavo was of no interest for them: all they cared about was to make the poison “disappear”.»
|Drums containing industrial waste emerging from the soil of one of the dolinas in the former dumping site of Trebiciano-Trebče|