Naples ex-industrial area clean-up 'fake'

21 people under investigation for 107-million-euro 'fraud'

Naples ex-industrial area clean-up 'fake'

Naples, April 11 - A Naples preliminary-investigations judge on Thursday ordered the sequester of a former industrial area in Bagnoli on the outskirts of Naples as part of a probe into the alleged 'fake' environmental clean-up of sites previously occupied by a steelworks and a cement plant. Twenty-one people have been placed under investigation in connection with the probe, including former managers of the company Bagnoli Futura, a public company tasked with overseeing a recent 107-million-euro environmental clean-up operation at the site, and of various local territorial agencies. Investigators claim their actions compounded existing environmental problems in the area due to an alleged "generalised conflict of interest". "All the public authorities appointed to monitor the clean-up, such as ARPAC (the Campania regional environmental protection agency) and the Naples municipal and provincial governments, came to visit," prosecutors said. Consequently, not only was the environmental clean-up merely carried out "virtually", but it also allegedly led to the "mixing of dangerous pollutants across the entire area, exacerbating ground pollution compared to pre-clean-up levels", they said. The prosecution is considering pressing charges for State fraud and deception in connection with the issue of false certificates attesting the clean-up as a result. The preliminary-investigations judge has ordered "a detailed plan of action aimed at cleaning up and securing" the sequestered areas. The Bagnoli Futura project was intended to clean up and revamp 120 hectares of land, turning it into a park-and-recreation area that included a clean and safe beach for swimming along the coast. It entailed converting a shipping pier into a publicly accessible promenade. In a bid to restore the natural flow of the sea current, part of north jetty and sea-wall were removed or renovated, aiming to make the maritime ecosystem suitable again for marine life. Roughly 70 acres of surrounding area was set aside for hotels, bars, restaurants and shopping areas, as well as a 700-berth marina. Highlights also included the Porta del Parco heath spa, a 30-hectare sports park, a campsite, an sea-turtle aquarium inside a former water-treatment plant, and an environmental technology centre. It was heralded as a "beacon" of urban regeneration.

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