Italy: Sicilians blame oil firm's toxic waste for children's birth defects

Italy's largest oil company stands accused of polluting the waters off the Sicilian town of Gela by allegedly dumping large quantities of toxic waste under the sea. Environmental pollution charges were brought against five managers at Eni last month. Locals and experts believe toxic waste from the company's refinery at Gela has caused high rates of birth defects in the area. Mortality rates... Еще from cancer are also higher than elsewhere in Sicily, according to a report by Sentieri Project, a venture funded by the Italian Ministry of Health. Contacted by Ruptly, Eni representatives declined to speak on camera. However the company has said there is no evidence linking its refinery to malformations among local residents, according to reports. Italian lawyer Luigi Fontanella has been gathering evidence of the ill health of Gela's residence since 2007. «Each malformation that has been analysed in the course of the technical consultancy is realistically attributable to these industrial polluting agents, and, as such, [the malformations] can be linked to the operativeness of the Eni Group companies on Gela's territory,» he said, citing an experts' report. At Fontanella's request a local court in 2012 began investigating links between the refinery and local residents' ill health. A resulting experts' study concluded that the sea around Gela was so polluted that «it is the water [itself] that is the contaminant of the toxic substance.» Twenty-year-old Gela local Kimberly Scudera is believed to be a victim of the environmental contaminants. She is affected by spina bifida, a condition that means the vertebrae did not form properly around part of her spinal cord when she was in her mother's womb. Kimberly Scudera will have to use a wheelchair for the rest of her life. She and doctors commissioned by the court believe her condition was caused by chemicals in the local environment. «To be fair, I do not care [to know] who did this to me. Surely, in my situation, it is not easy knowing that my condition was caused by Eni. It is a little bit more difficult to realise what is happening to me, since it's because of them that I am like this,» she said on Monday. «I can't do anything about it. It is not my fault — and not even my parents'. The others see me as a ... they tell me I am normal like everyone else, but these are just words.»
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