Rome, March 27 IANS | 7 months ago

Water contaminated from an illegal toxic dump has been distributed over the course of years to residents of a large area in central Italy, the Italian Higher Institute for Health (ISS) said in a report Wednesday.

"The contaminated water was distributed over a vast territory and to about 700,000 people, without control and even to hospitals and schools," Xinhua quoted the ISS as saying.

The report underlined that the quality of water in the massive dumpsite, that was found in a chemical industrial area near the city of Pescara, was "unquestionably, significantly and persistently damaged" due to "the extraordinary environmental impact of industrial activities" and "reckless spilling."

Investigators opened a probe in 2007 over harmful contamination in the area, uncovering toxic substances that had polluted nearby rivers and aquifers since the early 1960s.

More than 20 people are being investigated, including managers of Italian former chemical producer Montedison and the Belgian company that acquired the chemical industrial area in 2002.

The toxic dump was an "ecological bomb, the biggest in Europe", interred at the feet of two national parks in the heart of the Mediterranean country, chairman of the environment commission of the Italian lower chamber Ermete Realacci was quoted as saying by Il Fatto Quotidiano newspaper.

Realacci explained that the dump was located in an area of around 30 hectares in size where nearly "one million tonnes of toxic and industrial waste from the production of chlorine, soda, bleach, formaldehyde, perchlorate, vinyl chloride and ammonium chloride" were buried.

The estimated environmental damage, he stressed, was of 8.5 billion euros (or $11.7 billion) while a total of 600 million euros (or $827 million) will be necessary for remediation.

The report said that consumers had not been informed of the "substantial risk" of using the contaminated water and therefore "were not able to know the situation and make informed choices."

(Posted on 27-03-2014)

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