Italian mafia implicated in radioactive waste dumping

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The 'Ndrangheta, an Italian mafia syndicate, has been accused by a former member of the gang of sinking dozens of ships loaded with toxic waste, much of it radioactive. He says a journalist and cameraman were killed to keep them from revealing the activity.

The 'Ndrangheta Italian mafia syndicate is centered in Calabria
Image: Dutch Wikipedia.

Turncoat Francesco Fonti has identified a wreck located a few months ago by environmental workers as MV Kunsky or Cunsky and says he sunk it himself in 1992, complete with 100 barrels of radioactive waste. The gang received £100,000 ($162,720) for the job.

The wreck was scoured last week by a robot, but could not be identified. It lies 480 feet below sea level, and is about 330 to 360 feet long. Its description and location have been found to match an old account Fonti gave authorities three years ago, and environmental detection equipment has been dispatched to the ship, images of which do show barrels in the area.

Fonti claims he blew it up with explosives from Holland and it was used to dispose of Norwegian nuclear waste. The damage seen by the team working at the site does appear consistent with this version of events. Prosecutors say it appears the issue is displaying "all the appearances of being a confirmation". Fonti says waste was disposed of for businesses across Europe.

Nicola Pace, an Italian prosecutor, said there was evidence of "deliberate sinking of 42 ships with cargoes of waste, including radioactive waste" but there has never been concrete proof. Investigators will seek more shipwrecks if the mystery vessel does indeed have a toxic cargo. Over thirty vessels are believed to be in Italian waters.

Both Fonti and environmental group Legambiente have also claimed vessels were sent to Somalia and other developing countries with toxic cargoes, which were either sunk with the ship or buried on land. Legambiente alleges that local rebel groups were given weapons in exchange for receiving the waste ships. Fonti claims that Italian TV journalist Ilaria Alpi's 1994 murder alongside her cameraman was because she had seen toxic waste arrive in Bosaso, Somalia.