Italy earthquake. As in previous earthquakes in L’Aquila and Emilia, the Italian mafia may seek to profit again from the collection of debris. This time prosecutors are on guard.

Italy seeks to keep mafia out of the rubble business

Debris is being treated like the rubble from the earthquakes in L’Aquila in 2009 and Emilia in 2012. The emergency declaration and an ordinance from the Civil Protection service issued on Sept. 1, on its way to be published in the Official Gazette, outline the procedures for removal and storage of debris that currently looms over the central Italian villages disfigured by the tremors.

Ordinance number 391 focuses on “additional urgent interventions needed to resolve the consequences of the exceptional earthquake that struck the regions of Lazio, Marche, Umbria and Abruzzo,” and it is an exception to the Legislative Decree dated April 3, 2006. Article 3 lists the procedures and provisions for “the collection and transportation of material resulting from the collapse of buildings, whole or in part,” or from demolition.

And the rubble, estimated at about 700,000 cubic meters, is defined as “municipal waste” and is classified as such, “limited to the stages of collection and transportation to temporary storage sites.”

“These storage sites,” explains Titti Postiglione, head of DICOMAC, which is coordinating the earthquake relief efforts, “will be identified by the local authorities, in consultation with Harp, Arta, local health authorities and the regions.”

In these areas, the rubble will be stored for a “period of six months” and, in the meantime, operations “of separation and selection” of waste will be carried out to determine if either “recovery or disposal” applies. Another procedure will be applied to “goods of historical and artistic value and even those with symbolic value,” as well as for asbestos: These will be sorted and separated at the source.

“The transportation of materials to the collection centers,” it specifies further, “is the responsibility of those companies operating directly in the integrated management of municipal waste in the regions affected” or “indirectly” of transportation companies “not registered as suppliers” and without a system for the “traceability of waste. … Said activities are carried out ​​without any prior analysis.”

Similar procedures were adopted after the tragedy of April 6, 2009, in L’Aquila — which produced 3 million tons of rubble — and the disaster of May 2012 in Emilia. Also at that time, Libera protested against these measures, calling them irresponsible. Because, in essence, in the name of the emergency and urgency, controls and constraints are eliminated.

And, indeed, according to judicial and journalistic investigations, organized crime has managed to slip into the reconstruction efforts in the two regions, specifically in the tasks of removal and transportation of rubble, swarming the streets of the destroyed towns with trucks. In the past years in Emilia, the Anti-Mafia task force and the joint investigation teams have denounced the proximity of some construction companies to the ‘Ndrangheta, the Calabrian mob, and in particular with the Crotone group.

For this reason, some companies, including important ones, have been banned from the White List, the register of suppliers and subcontractors for reconstruction, because of the “underlying and present danger of mafia infiltration.”

In Abruzzo, a year after the tragedy, Libera published a dossier on “shady deals on the rubble, the plots, the ties between the administrations and the mafias, the assignments to the gangs — in a few words, all the illegal activities after the earthquake” on a journey “across the deals made on the dead and among sand buildings, on small and large contracts, driven in the name of and endless emergency.” Pages signed by the representative of Abruzzo at the association, Angelo Venti, focusing on the “mystery of the missing debris, the thriller of seismic isolators that did not meet regulations, the costs housing demanded by Berlusconi.”

Later, after inquiries and interventions, it turned out that the Casalesi, thanks to some builders, were doing businesses in the capital of Abruzzo.

A few days ago, as a result of arrests of members of the ‘Ndrangheta group Ferrazzo in different regions, the national anti-mafia prosecutor Franco Roberti sounded the alarm from L’Aquila in reference to the reconstruction of areas hit by the earthquake on Aug. 24. He said: “So, we must make reference to the CRASI model [an Italian acronym of Research and Analysis Center for Investigative Development]. By cross-referencing the data collected from various sources, the CRASI model allows to check for possible links between criminal elements who want to enter the reconstruction program. It must be prevented at a critical time, the most dangerous of all the direct assignments of utmost urgent measures: contracts to dispose of and remove debris, install shoring, and provide brokerage services and labor.”

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