In the city of Brescia, a few hundred meters from the historic centre, the chemical industry Caffaro (since 1985 owned by Snia-BPD, then Snia S.p.A.) has been operating since 1906. The industry produced caustic soda (NaOH), from the 30s the activities were dedicated mainly to the fabrication of chlorine organ compounds, specialized from 1938 to 1984 in PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). The latter was the exclusive production in Italy thanks to the patent granted by Monsanto.See more...
In 2001, after the publication of a research about the Caffaro history , there emerged the serious pollution produced by the industry in the nearest areas of the city, which directly affected around 25,000 inhabitants. Analysis carried out by the regional agency for the protection of the environment (ARPA), Local and National health authorities (ASL and ISS) proved the high PCB contamination of the area (up to 100 times above the limits of the law). The pollution included mercury, carbon tetrachloride and DDT and affected land, surface water and groundwater. Consequently, the area was included within the contaminated sites of national interest . Moreover, an illegal special waste landfill site was found near the industry and subsequently included in the sites to be reclaimed with urgency. In 2001, directly affected citizens started a mobilization to obtain the reclamation of the area. A Popular Committee against pollution in the Caffaro area was created and supported by an Independent Scientific Committee constituted by doctors, scientists and researchers .
In 2001, after the publication in the newspaper “La Repubblica” of research results denouncing the contamination provoked by the Caffaro, the case come to the attention of the citizens of Brescia. Actually, the industry at that time was in downsizing and the most significant spills of PCBs and dioxins in the surrounding area occurred in previous decades.
From that moment the institutions responsible for environmental and health inspections were forced to carry out environmental surveys and biological monitoring, until then never executed. The analysis highlighted the serious and disastrous environmental pollution of the area.
In 2002, once the extent of the contamination and danger for local population was evident, the mayor of Brescia banned farming for human alimentation and forbidden the consumption of goods produced in the area . Similar municipal ordinances to limit the use of the polluted lands (public gardens, agricultural fields, pastures, etc.) have been extended for periods of six months until 2014 . Over the years, increased attention on the Caffaro case through studies, conferences and events thanks also to the actions put in place by local Committees. In 2008, new studies’ data were published concerning the high presence of dioxins in blood and breast milk of the population . In 2009, Snia S.p.A. decided to put into liquidation the Caffaro, the liquidation process ends in 2011. However, the definitive cessation of the activities has been announced in 2013.
The urgent remediation process progresses slowly, despite the 2009 Programme Agreement issued by the Region for the remediation of the SIN  and the media attention on the case.
Local committees ask for a general plan for the reclamation of the SIN area, the polluted lands outside the SIN perimeter and groundwater. The mobilization included public assembly to disseminate information and raise awareness on the health risks for the population, demonstrations, participation in conferences organized by local authorities, popular petitions, appeal to the judiciary (civil and criminal justice) and appeal to the European Union for infringements of the Community law.
In the last years, citizens directly affected by pollution have initiated legal action for damages, but without success. In 2014 started a new civil lawsuit against the owners of Caffaro actioned by local citizens and the Municipality of Brescia .