oil spill sparks food fears on italian farms - absorbent pads for food packaging
ROME-On Thursday, sludge from oil spills winding along the Po River arrived in Parma province, raising fears that Italy's famous hometown of Italian ham, Parmesan cheese and other produce could be threatened by water pollution.
Coldirectti, an Italian farm lobby, insisted that the food chain in Italy was safe because Po was not used for irrigation these days.
But Confagricultura, another group of farm owners, warned that the planting season in spring, especially for water --
Intensive rice crops may be at risk unless clean water is ensured.
Across several northern regions, the Po River Valley covers an area of 27,400 square miles, ranking third in Italy's agricultural output and 40% of Italy's GDP.
Due to its economic importance, officials have warned that agricultural output could be affected in addition to the widespread damage that oil slick has caused to wildlife in the region.
Authorities said the leak began on Tuesday when a reservoir at a refinery near Monza was opened, allowing tens of thousands of gallons of oil to flow unimpeded into the lambroo River. Tributary of po.
By Wednesday, despite efforts to curb the oil slick with a suction pad and close the water and electricity lock, oil seeped through Italy's longest river Po from Rambro, which flows westto-
East of the country.
On Thursday, Environment Minister Presti Giacomo investigated the damaged air and national civil defense director, Guido Bertolaso, who met with regional officials as environmental groups and opposition lawmakers criticized the government for its slow response.
The World Wildlife Fund says thousands of birds
Ducks, herons and other animals
Nesting and breeding in this area, it is called one of the most important areas in Europe.
Besides, some fish
Eel, grilled fish and wooden fish
Breed in water.
"The entire ecosystem and economic system is in danger," WWF warned in a statement . ".
Officials say water in the area is safe to drink, but provinces have issued fishing and boating bans on affected areas of Po.
Food is safe because at this time of the year agricultural production is low and heavy rain means Po does not need irrigation for a period of time, coldirector said.
"Food at the table is not at risk and does not cause damage to planting," coldirecti said in a statement, adding that rainfall forecasts for the next few days mean oil will be further diluted, the residue will be dispersed.
But the same rainfall also worries environmental groups, who warn that the high water level in the Po means that oil will spread to other tributaries and streams of the Po, leading to wider environmental degradation.
The Confagricultura farm group said the impact of the leak will be felt in the small tributary farm community, especially as rice is planted in the spring, the demand for water increases.
Mario Vigo, vice president of Confagricultura, said: "We are monitoring this situation every hour, but we are very worried about the possible damage to the land in the coming months and years . ".
Prosecutors have launched an investigation into the oil spill.
Authorities say there must have been deliberate attempts to open the reservoir of the oil depot.