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Trinacria Nera

The history of the triangle of death

a production by Roman Herzog (2005)

a radio documentary of 77 minutes

download or listen to the first 26 minutes [mp3]

(the audio-quality is reduced)

Part of the petrolchimical complex of Priolo,
Augusta and Melilli
  If you’d like to receive a CD copy of Trinacria Nera  mail to  

In this audio feature one of the most obscure stories of the post-war Sicily, the story of the Trinacria Nera is told by those who are still going through it.

In the aftermath of the Second World War at the gates of Catania, between Augusta, Priolo and Melilli, Europe’s biggest petrochemical complex was born, an industrial region that transformed the fertile and god blessed land of this south-eastern part of Sicily, the original cradle of Europe from the time of the Greeks, into a zone of ecological catastrophe, the so called “Triangle of death”.

According to the statistics of the European Pollutant Emission Register, industrial emissions in this area are twenty tons per minute, more than ten million tons per year, containing ammoniac, arsenic, benzene, chlorine acid, dioxin, sulfuric acid, azotes oxide, heavy metals (like cadmium, chromo, mercury) and a number of other substances, all of them noxious for health, most of which can cause cancer. These emissions are in constant transgression of legal limits, which no one respects.

In more than fifty years of activity several multinational corporations have polluted the sea and the soil, with their illegal handling of toxic wastes. The resulting consequences are dramatic: the cancer-rates are at an enormous height as a direct result of the pollution and the deformations of new born children are more than double of the national average. But genetic mutation is also found in the cultivated vegetation and in the fish of the sea around the area.

But the inhabitants of the "Triangle of death" are not only exposed to the ecological risks. In fact the petrochemical area rose in a seismic zone of 12th degree. In 1990 an earthquake left more than 5.000 of the residents of Augusta without a roof and a house. But in the press and mass media nothing was reported about the effects of the earthquake in the industrial zone. It had just been silenced by that veil that covers almost every accident and activity in the Trinacria Nera.

Finally the citizens denounce a third general risk of their motherland, that is connected to the nearby US airbase Sigonella and the directly linked naval base Augusta Bay, both of which emerged parallel to the petrochemical zone in the 1950's. Today Sigonella is the most important US-Base in Europe from where all combat activities of the United States after the Second World War have been directed. One of the multiple components of this base is the weapon depot in the mountains of Melilli, precisely inside the industrial area.

In the audio documentary “Trinacria Nera” the story of this entire complex is told, from the first hopes of industrial and economic development in the region to the deadly effects for mankind and nature, from the first struggles of the citizens for their rights of health and security to today’s risk of witnessing the zone being transformed into an area of international toxic waste management and depository.

The radio documentary has a duration of 77 minutes.

If you’d like to receive a CD copy of Trinacria Nera mail to

  Explosion of the refinery ERG-ISAB the night of April 30th 2006.   Trinacria Nera (2005)

a radio documentary directed and produced
Roman Herzog

with the voices of:
a worker who desires to remain anonymous; 
Stefano Tempio (ex-worker in the Montedison); Enzo Parisi (Legambiente); Massimo Carruba (politcal head of Augusta;  Andrea Baffo (Casa Comune); Liliana Blondino (Associazione "Genitori di bimbi malformati"); Rossana Zerega (Comitato Cittadini di Augusta); Maria; Mr and Mrs Hauke from Germany (tourists); Maja Bruskin (nurse); two pensioners from Melilli; Alessio di Modica (actor); Dr. Giacinto Franco, Father Don Palmiro Prisutto; Maurizio Musco (public prosecutor of the republic).

  Useful links

Dossier informativo sulla zona industriale Augusta-Priolo-Melilli
Brief history and situation overview of the complex, provided by The Citizen’s Committee (Augusta February 2005)

Il Rompiscatole - Don Palmiro Prisutto

EPER - European Pollutant Emission Register

NAS Sigonella

La Mega Sigonella. Militarizzazione, mafie e conflitti

La Bomba Sigonella

The refinery ERG-ISAB, one of 13 plants of the petrochemical area