Silver 2017 / Editorial / Environmental

Where Shall I Go?

  • Photographer
    stefano schirato

“I don’t think anyone will survive,” said Schiavone, repentant, in his secret testimony. “In Casapesenna, Casal di Principe, Castel Volturno, and so on, the inhabitants are all at risk of dying from cancer within twenty years.” He was former treasurer of Casalesi clan, based in Casal di Principe and controlling Caserta and most of the territory in the so-called “Land of fires”: an area in Campania, situated among the province of Caserta and the province of Naples, sadly known for being the most polluted area of this region, due to millions of toxic waste that have been illegally dumped here over the past 20 years. National and international industries have been illegally disposing hazardous waste thanks to deals with local politicians and the Camorra, cutting down the enormous costs of legal disposing. Waste is not only buried underground, in fields where agriculture and farming are present, but also incinerated (that is when the name Land of fires comes from). The environmental disaster is the greatest in Italy, affecting not only soil, and the related products of agriculture and breeding, but also the aquifer. The presence of leachate flowing underground; poisons filling up enormous caves; the air unbreathable due to miasmas and the smoke coming from pyres set on fire. Day by day, the lives of people living near the dumping sites are put at risk, especially among children and young people. My work is actually made of two strands, continuously intertwining and diverging. On one hand, the story of a land, tormented by a malicious and underworld pollution, that’s sentencing the inhabitants to death. On the other hand, my purpose is to tell the story of its inhabitants: young children who died of cancer; inconsolable but courageous mothers, who unceasingly march and protest against this massacre; ill people, daily fighting to keep alive; teenagers who lost their parents and claim a better future. All these people united by the same destiny and by such a strong attachment to their origins that if you dare ask them why they don’t decide to move somewhere else, you might get an answer like “ And where shall I go?” On January, 2 2016 after pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato si” on the environment and after years of denunciations and protests, the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (the Italian Institute for Health) has finally officialised and certified the connection between pollution and the alarming increase of cancer cases in the region. Literally, “in the land of fires mortality is higher also due to exposition to a system of environmental pollution elements, emitted or released by illegal dumps and/or by uncontrolled incineration of hazardous waste”.