40 percent of Italian sea 'polluted beyond legal limits'

ROME- Samples from Italian seawater taken in 2017 resulted in 40 percent being classed as ‘polluted’, according to a study conducted by the environmental organisation Legambiente.

 Goletta Verde, a boat owned by the non-profit organisation, sailed for over seven thousand kilometres along the Italian coastline to collect 260 sea water samples from various points, 105 of which showed bacterial levels “beyond legal limits.” The study revealed: “The pollution is linked to the presence of sewage disposal that has not been purified.”   

 There are “38 cases of ‘chronic illness’, that is points who have on average tested as contaminated over the last five years.” Lazio is the region most at risk of contaminated water, having the most cases of ‘chronic illnesses’ at 8, followed by Calabria at 7. Campania and Sicily both recorded 5 cases.

 Legambiente have presented “11 exposés, one for each region whose pollution levels showed themselves to be ‘chronically ill’, based on the ‘ecoreati’ [‘eco-crime’] law which introduced environmental crimes into the penal code, including the crime of environmental pollution.” The environmental organisation criticised local governments and relevant authorities for not having taken sufficient action after “the numerous unheard appeals” that have been launched to them.

  Water handling and inadequate purification systems have been blamed for sea pollution. Italy is one of the worst countries in Europe for purification, according to the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive site for Europe, launched in 2014. Its studies reveal that only 41 percent of loads are subjected to a treatment conforming to regulations, in comparison with an average of 69 percent in Europe.

 On the 46 beaches monitored across Italy, almost 7,000 cotton buds were found, "the outcome of the bad habit of throwing them in the toilet and inadequate purifying systems”, along with tampons, blister packs and napkins.

 “The Mediterranean”, Legambiente concluded, “is one of the seas most threatened by waste floating and abandoned rubbish, which is the result of poor upstream management, poor awareness and poor purification.”  

This new data is a stark contrast to previous ministerial data which said that 95 percent of bathing water sampled was “of an ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ quality.” 

 In Italy, there have been two convictions and a third court case for violation of environmental regulations, largely affecting the regions of Sicily, Calabria and Campania. Moreover, from January 2017, a heavy fine was set for those who breach of regulation: 62,700,000 euros to be paid as a one-off fine to Europe, as well as 347,000 to be paid for every day that the breach is not fixed.