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Taranto’s Ilva: the results of the lab analyses related to the samples of the environmental compartments were tricked
5 nov 2018, by Luciano Manna, translated by Alessia Melchiorre – In the labs of the Ilva plant of Taranto the results of the analyses were tricked through a tested system that was perpretated along the years by several people that operated to alter the values of the analyses of the samples of the environmental compartments, to make them fall within the law standards. VeraLeaks comes to this conclusion thanks to a testimony of an ex Ilva’s worker, who worked in these labs for many years, and who met thanks to the intermediation of the association “Genitori Tarantini”. Shown below is the partial declaration of the ex-worker, where the names of the people involved have been omitted and where the same worker explains the system adopted to alter these values.
(The complete version is available at Taranto’s public prosecutor office, where it will be deposited in the next days. In the following version each real name has been replaced by a letter of the phonetic alphabet.)
“I was employed at SAE/ECO (Environmental Safety and Ecology) during the years (…) and I took care of the samples of smokes and dusts in the Ilva plant of Taranto and in particular in the plants of Agglomerato (Conglomerate), Cokeria (Cokery), Altiforni (Blast furnaces) and on the chimneys of these same plants. I did all the operations of sampling of the waste waters and of characterization of the soils and of the subsoil by the so-called coring. For example, I took part in the samplings of characterization of Ilva/Sanac. We had a daily planning where all the plants to check during the working day were listed and, as the sampling must be done within one hour according to the law, we used to check 8 plants per day.
When I used to do the coring my task was to do the samplings of the carrots in the soils. Five 1 meter long carrots, one starting from the surface, from the planking level, so the coring concerned 5 meters of depth in the soil. Once the stratigraphy was done by the geologist, the doctor Xray, I had to do the samplings for each carrot extracted according to the indications given by my foreman, the doctor Yankee. During those years the person in charge of the lab was a chemist from Bari, the doctor Zulu; before him there was the ingeneer Kilo who was pulled off to take care of the raw materials. Then doctor Zulu became the foreman of the lab of analyses that was structured in several halls: one for the smokes, one for the dusts and another hall was for the carrots and the waste waters.
Beyond the samplings I did other operations such as the weighing of the filters that need to be put in the probes to sample with the tools; I took from the lab the potassium permanganate solution by which we did the samplings that the same lab later analysed. During my ordinary job tasks, I noticed something a little weird; in the working hours I assisted my team while doing the samplings of smokes and dusts in the different plants and I noticed that the procedures were carried out in an anomalous way. When we used to get back from the operations of sampling, we left the equipment and took the samples to the lab. Before going to the lab we had to go the doctor Yankee with our report on the observations of the weight of the filter before and after the sampling (difference from which resulted the weight of the sampled dusts) that he read. In some cases, he considered the weight of the sample too excessive in relation to the time of sampling as he did a ratio between the two values. Based on what we delivered to him he wrote up another short report.
Considering the legislation and in relation to the time of sampling he modified the weight of the filter and made it fall within the parameters. When we went to the lab with the samples made from the plants, after the sampling, we used to take them to the lab to doctor Zulu and we stayed there. I saw that for each value analysed, a short report came out from his machine. While these short reports came out, I was warned that some values were high and I replied, of course, that the sampling had to happen within one hour and, during that range of time, the smokes sampled, or the dusts were indeed high.
After that I used to go to the doctor Yankee that saw the short report just out from the machine. Sometimes he told me: “This H2S is a little high, it’s not okay, we have to keep it low”. And so what did he do? He did an additional analysis at the lab where he could set up the values on the machine. Then I took this short report to my colleague that took care of the analysis and he adjusted the machine in order to have the values in the standard following the instructions given by the doctor Yankee, and after, when the sheet came to the doctor Zulu, this one considered the values too high and lowered them again, so the sample came back to the operator. I was there when the doctor Zulu told my colleague: “Look, these values are too high, you have to lower them again!”
The machine of the lab was already adjusted to detect the values within the legal limits: these values were lowered by the doctor Yankee first and by the doctor Zulu after, and since he was the foreman, the people that sampled couldn’t refuse to do some operations. Everything was planned to give a controlled result and I remember also that my colleague who adjusted the machine to keep the values within the legal limits used to tell me: “see what we have to do to work?”
After I saw all this situation, I went to the doctor Yankee to bring one of the many short reports that he adjusted and in that occasion I told him: “Doctor, may I say something? Look, I think these operations are not so regular because we have to stick to the results that the machine delivers and I saw the indications that you gave and I don’t think they are correct. Also, I saw that the doctor Zulu, additionally, gives other indications to lower the result always from the same machine and to the same operator who took that precise sample”. The doctor Yankee replied that we only had the task of doing the sampling, these were “their business” and we had to follow those orders. Eventually he told me: “Don’t speak to the engineer Whiskey! Don’t put in troubles your colleagues otherwise resign directly, because if this issue ends up to the engineer Whiskey or to the doctor Juliett…” The engineer Whiskey and doctor Juliett were our bosses at SAE. He told me that if my complaints came to the engineer Whiskey, this one would have immediately fired me and since the engineer Whiskey was the direct fiduciary of the Riva family neither the doctor Yankee who was foreman could interfere with a decision by Whiskey because his word was the word of Riva’s.
One day I saw a heated debate between the doctor Yankee, my foreman, and doctor Zulu, responsible of the labs. The first one said to the second that we didn’t have to adjust the short reports of the samplings before him because he had to do this operation first, in such a way he could know about the original results. The doctor Zulu replied that he was saving the work to him but doctor Yankee replied again that when the inspections of “Arpa Puglia” (Regional Agency for Environmental Protection) come, they ask for explanations to him therefore he had to have a clear vision of the real values and only afterwards he can adjust them. These anomalous procedures happened both on the results of the analyses related to the samples of smokes and dusts and on the coring related to the characterisations.
Later the doctor Yankee talked to the engineer Whiskey that in turn informed the lawyer Hotel who during those years was member of the legal office of Ilva. Subsequently this lawyer poured over me a lot of disputes. Moreover my conditions of work became more challenging because I had to do particular tasks, physically and psychologically stressful, which I reported to the police. But after several years of work and due to this situation I am not a worker in Ilva anymore.