Photographer: Mattia Marzorati
Title: The land of holes
Location: Italy
Period: 12/2019 - 07/2021
Category: Environment

Over the last hundred years the city of Brescia and its province have experienced an exceptional economic development, mainly thanks to the engineering and mining sectors, to whose gravel, sand and marble quarries we owe the name of "land of holes". The presence of these huge holes ready to be filled started the waste business in the 1980s.

The lack of laws regulating waste disposal, mafia infiltration and the search for maximum profit by industrialists have created a seemingly efficient economic system with disastrous consequences for the territory and its inhabitants over the years. The incidence of cancer and other pathology is much higher here than in rest of the country; moreover, the province can boast the presence of one of the biggest incinerators in Europe, an enormous concentration of landfills, the highest number of radioactive sites and intensive farms in Italy (there are more pigs than people), one of the two widest and worst contamination by PCB ever recorded in the world.
According to a study published by The Lancet Planetary Health journal in 2021, Brescia also ranks worst in Europe in fatalities related to fine particulate matter (PM 2.5).

Public committees and environmentalists, who are trying to fight these policies, face the stark opposition from institutions and the indifference of most of their fellow-citizens, poorly informed and mainly concerned about maintaining their economic well-being.
For the past few months many studies have been linking the exceptional spread and deadliness of Covid-19 in this area with the pre-existing air contamination.

The province of Brescia concentrates an incredibly high number of environmental problems in its territory and represents a significant case in order to understand how the current development models are absolutely unsustainable and destructive for the environment and for the people.

Tarpaulins covering the slag left by Selca company in the municipality of Berzo Demo Together with Ucar Carbon specialized in the production of graphite electrodes it has abandoned tons of toxic waste from all over the world on the hill of poisons leaving them exposed for years to atmospheric agents The site is still awaiting remediation following the company s bankruptcy in 2010

Stefania Collu during a free beauty session Some beauty salons in Brescia don t charge women who are struggling with cancer She died of cancer on the 15th December 2020 In the province of Brescia there are significantly higher cancer rates than in the rest of Italy with variations up to 27 for some types probably linked to the presence of dioxins and other pollutants in the environment

Aerial view of an extractive area in Montichiari The presence of these huge quarries to be filled has given rise to the impressive waste business Toxic waste from many foreign countries including former USSR members and Australia was found in both authorized and illegal landfills The photo was taken from a small airplane with my analog camera

Unidentified material dispersed on a corn field a few meters from the Kalos quarry and from various landfills with asbestos and high toxic waste The inhabitants of the area report irregularities in the transport and storage of waste which is sometimes dispersed by the wind In Vighizzolo a higher incidence of respiratory disorders in children has been recorded as well as a number of premature births 62 higher than in the rest of the province

Nunzio Perrella former Camorra member and collaborator of justice In 1992 he was the first to talk about mafia infiltration into the waste business Within the Adelphi operation he stated that garbage is gold and that this type of trafficking is far more profitable and safer than drug trafficking The report drawn up by the DIA-Anti-Mafia Investigation Directorate in 2019 underlined a further fundamental aspect of waste traffic in addition to moving from north to south the illicit trafficking routes affected the north-north route In fact even in the north waste is disposed of in illegal landfills often quarries on which once covered crops are practiced Sandro Raimondi Deputy Prosecutor of Brescia affirms that from south to north this illicit trade and illicit treatment is taking place which has made Brescia and its surroundings in my opinion a new triangle of death an area approximately 25 km northeast of the city of Naples in the Province of Naples famous in the world for the illegal waste dump

Aerial view on the Cava Verde landfill of Montichiari About 25 thousand people live in this area where there are about 20 legal illegal and inactive landfills According to the director of ARPA Fabio Cambielli it is a unique case in Europe The photo was taken from a small airplane with my analog camera

Interior of the Bonoris Castle purchased by the municipality of Montichiari in 1996 today one of the most famous attractions in the city Thanks to the waste business many municipalities in the province of Brescia have become incredibly rich and so able to make huge investments for the embellishment of their public spaces and the expansion of their cultural heritage

Members of Essere Animali collective record a video before a protest action inside an intensive farm In the province of Brescia there is the national record for the number of intensive farms with about 1 4 million pigs and 1 3 million inhabitants Illegal spillage of sewage into streams and fields and PM 2 5 production pose a serious health risk including the spread of lung cancer According to the International Society of Doctors for the Environment intensive farming is among the main sources of pollution of soil water and air

Dead fish on the bed of the river Mella Illegal spills in canals and rivers linked to industrial and livestock production are an extremely widespread and frequent phenomenon throughout the province

Pierino Antonioli and his wife Franca In 2001 after some analyses carried out on milk produced in his farm all Pierino s cows were seized and killed because contaminated by the PCB polychlorinated biphenyls produced by Caffaro chemical industry for the same reason he received a ban on cultivating his fields Caffaro industry is responsible for one of the two largest and most serious PCB contamination ever recorded in the world and it has also been accused of having released dioxins furans mercury arsenic and carbon tetrachloride over the decades The Caffaro Site of National Interest struck by what is considered one of the most serious environmental disasters in Italian history is still waiting to be reclaimed

Alfa Acciai one of the most important steel production centers in Europe in San Polo district Brescia The company has been involved in environmental scandals including the dispersion of dioxins slags and radioactive rivers and represents one of the many radioactive sites in Brescia which holds the Italian record for the highest number Here children aged 6 to 14 who suffer from respiratory diseases are 30 more than the ones in the rest of the city

Carmine lost his wife to leukemia in 2014 Since then he has been running around contaminated places to raise awareness of the environmental risks spreading messages written on his shirts He is one of the founders of the Basta Veleni public health committee According to a study published by The Lancet Planetary Health journal in 2021 Brescia also ranks worst in Europe in fatalities related to fine particulate matter PM 2 5