Massive illegal dumpsite found in Roman catacomb

Roman police have discovered tons of refuse, everything from household trash to industrial waste, illegally dumped in the 2nd and 3rd century A.D. catacombs of Tor Fiscale, an archaeological park in east Rome. Situated on the Via Latina near the junction with the ancient Appian Way, the Tor Fiscale park is part of the vast Appian Way Regional Park. The small park is dense with archaeological riches. It is at the crossroads of six Roman and one Renaissance aqueduct whose arched galleries dominate the landscape alongside the 13th century tower that gives the park its name. It is replete with remains of ancient luxury villas, homes, tombs and underground caves dug out of soft volcanic tufa. Initially carved to quarry the stone, the caves were used by early Christians for gatherings and burials during the imperial era when the religion was viewed with suspicion and its adherents sometimes persecuted.

Authorities came to suspect something was rotten underground during an investigation of illegal car scrapyards and waste disposal rackets in the area. On January 26th, about 20 people — police officers, personnel from Italy’s Regional Environmental Protection Agency (ARPA), municipal workers and members of the archaeological speleology organization Sotterranei di Roma (Undergrounds of Rome) — worked together to explore miles of the underground tunnels. They found a shocking amount of waste, including old refrigerators, mattresses, electronics, tires, batteries, hundreds of bags of organic materials full of various molds that may have been used in the cultivation of mushrooms.

In one of the deepest tunnels, they found a veritable lake of greasy black goo that is likely used motor oil. On the surface alone this lake of hydrocarbon pollution covers about 200 square meters (2,150 square feet), and preliminary analysis found the lake is more than a foot deep, so the total volume of toxic filth in this one spot alone is something in the neighborhood of 800 cubic meters (28,250 cubic feet). At some points the vaults of the tunnel appear to be impregnated with the goop, suggesting it was dumped from above rather than transported deep into the caves. The team took samples of the fluid to identify it and they will examine the surface to locate the entry point. There will also be extensive testing to assess whether the oil has seeped into the water table.

After making the shocking discovery, police used drones to fully explore the network of bat-and-mice-infested tunnels to try to establish the extent of the dumping.

It is thought that local businesses and residents have been using the site to cheaply dispose of their unwanted goods for years. Police even discovered that unscrupulous dumpers had drilled shafts down into the caves from above, which they used as rubbish chutes to quickly dispose of their unwanted goods.

Authorities have closed the entrances to the caves on Via Demetriade and Via di Torre Branca, but of course that won’t stop people from using their homemade garbage chutes. The municipal police are investigating the case in the hopes of finding who is responsible, at least most recently, for this ruthless assault on Rome’s cultural history and environmental health.

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10 Comments »

Comment by rita Roberts
2016-02-10 03:11:31

This mess is absolutely disgusting. If the people responsible for it are found they should be made to clean it all up. They should also be given a heavy fine.

 
Comment by drive-by music guy
2016-02-10 05:29:06

Damn. Let’s hope they find an envelope with someone’s name on it under that garbage…

 
Comment by Sennacherib
2016-02-10 06:23:57

Anybody they can identify and prove that they did this should be prosecuted to the fullest extent. I do bet though that the ancient Romans themselves did the very same thing and their trash is considered archaeological gold.

 
Comment by dearieme
2016-02-10 17:10:07

The only good feature: “police used drones …”. I liked that.

 
Comment by Edward Goldberg
2016-02-10 17:14:14

Italian life is an inexhaustible source of WTF moments–but this is in a class of its own.

Having registered my dismay–and having stipulated that those who perpetrated this outrage should be fed to wild animals in the nearest amphitheater–it is worth noting that this frightfully frightfully terribly terribly important archeological site had been effectively abandoned by the authorities for years if not decades.

So,on 26 January they sent twenty people to wade through the gunk. If one of those 20 people had paid a monthly visit for a look-see (and Tor Fiscale is not that far out)… Oh, don’t get me started!

 
Comment by Sennacherib
2016-02-11 06:08:23

Exactly.

 
Comment by jeryk
2016-02-11 15:54:58

What a nasty mess! ugh- waste disposal is always tricky done right, but omg worse when it is rework!
Fines ha! I’m sure there is already legislation in place. Maybe some costs can be recovered but I supect that just perpetuates problems on problems with some of this. DO put them to work in fixing it. THAT is far more visible and effective.
This will drag on for who knows how long and be a money pit too, complexity on complexity.
Sad the length of degrade here. wow…

 
Comment by mary
2016-02-12 05:09:56

This is just a test for webfont functionality in modern webbrowsers. Sorry in advance for this.
————


:eek:

 
Comment by Edward Goldberg
2016-02-13 12:29:44

Hello, Mary! Do you also dump used motor oil in Roman catacombs?

 
Comment by anja
2016-03-15 03:48:52

It might be worth something in 1,000 years.

 
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