Environment Blog

Italian Mafia Takes Out the Toxic Trash

Ex-mobster admits to sinking ships full of nuclear and medical waste.

September 20, 2009
Toxic waste, anyone? [Credit: andynahman, flickr.com]
Toxic waste, anyone? [Credit: andynahman, flickr.com]

Attention: This blog is best read while listening to this song.

Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes. And so do an estimated 35 sunken ships containing large amounts of toxic waste illegally exposed of by the Italian mafia, claims Francesco Foti, ex-mobster turned criminal informant for the Italian government. Foti confessed that the Calabria Mafia has been sinking ships packed with the poisonous stuff in the Mediterranean Sea for the last 20 years. Foti says he sank three of the ships himself; the whereabouts of the other 32 are unknown.

According to CNN, Foti’s tip was confirmed when Italy’s environmental agency sailed to the alleged dump site 18 miles off the country’s southwest coast and found a ship about 1,600 feet below the ocean surface, flanked by yellow garbage drums marked “toxic.” Foti says the drums contain nuclear waste from Norway—due to increasingly strict waste disposal regulations by the European Union, it was cheaper to pay the mob to load the waste onto a ship and sink rather than dispose of legally. Thirty-four other sunken ships are suspected to also contain nuclear waste as well as toxic medical supplies, according to World Health Organization.

So far, no one is speculating about whether the offshore toxic dumping is a significant threat to marine life–or to fish-eating humans–but let’s be realistic; nuclear waste dumping news is never good news.

Word of the mob whacking the environment is disconcerting. I long for the old school Italian mob, the mob that made Frank Sinatra a star, the mob whose only interaction with toxins came in the form of a little bootlegging, and whose only aquatic dumpings involved throwing wise guys into the East River. And until we know more, I’m staying away from any obscenely large Italian calamari.

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About the Author

Michael Glenn Easter enjoys writing about the intersection between the environment, politics, and economics–he studied those three topics by creating his own major at Wheaton College. He is particularly interested in the environmental issues of the West and has spent summers interning for the mayor of Salt Lake City, a Utah-based environmental group, and the EPA’s Rocky Mountain Region office in Denver

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