Toxic plume looms over northern Italian city as waste plant burns

Pavia (Italy), Sep 6 (IANS/AKI) A massive fire broke out at a special and hazardous waste facility near Pavia in northern Italy Wednesday, causing a black plume of smoke that has sparked fears cancer-inducing dioxins and other toxic chemical substances could be in the air.

“Everything is burning, probably rubber and plastic too. The danger is that dioxins are being released,” said the Italian government’s top representative in Pavia, Attilio Visconti.

Firemen called to the plant at the at Mortara industrial estate reported that hazardous waste, aluminium and tyres were ablaze.

Health and protection officials in the surrounding Lombardy region claimed that only paper and cardboard materials had caught fire at the plant, which handles non-dangerous as well as hazardous waste.

Local Mayor Marco Facchinotti issued orders to local residents to stay indoors with their doors and windows closed as prevailing winds blew black smoke from the plant towards nearby dwellings.

A team of experts was despatched to the scene to monitor air pollution as firefighters battled the conflagration and police probed its causes.

Wednesday’s blaze was the latest in a series that have broken out at waste facilities in recent months and the head of the Italian parliament’s environment commission, Ermete Realacci, on Wednesday urged tougher measures to prevent such blazes.

“Italy’s authorities should pay maximum attention….we need timelier and more rigorous checks,” Realacci said.

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