“Coimpo Massacre: Dead could have been avoided”

The reasons for sentence no. 833/2022 of the Court of Appeal of Venice (president Dr. Giuliano, editor Dr. Cavaggion), on the first Coimpo trial, focusing on the four deaths at work that occurred at the Cà Emo di Adria sewage treatment plant.

Convictions confirmed for all defendants but with a reduced sentence on appeal, for the simple fact of prescription, for a series of fines, in matters of environmental crimes and safety at work, with the consequent redetermination of sanctions. A simple automatism that, however, nothing changes in the sentence of criminal responsibility of the accused nor in the civil sentences of the trial of first instance.

The accusatory system was maintained, confirming the responsibilities and serious shortcomings in terms of safety of the waste treatment plant of the companies Coimpo – Agribiofert, in America, Ca ‘Emo, Adria, where on September 22, 2014 four workers lost their lives, suffocated by a toxic cloud. The latter was developed when 28 tons of hydrogen sulfide were poured into a tank containing sludge, to be treated for fertilizer.

A process of enormous importance, both from the point of view of safety at work and the environment, which saw a massive representation of the professional network Lpteam to protect civil parties constituted, with the lawyer Matteo Ceruti, promoter of the professional network, who attended the environmental associations Legambiente and WWF Italia, the lawyer Cristina Guasti , a member of the professional network, which protected another environmental association, Italia Nostra; in addition, numerous private citizens were formed, followed by lawyers Carmelo Marcello and Marco Casellato, also members of the professional network, as well as colleagues Ceruti and Guasti.

There are three main areas considered for full body loading: in first place multiple homicide, for the four dead; tan, occupational safety issues found in the course of the investigations; in the end, bad smells which, caused by the plant, would have created disturbance to several families residing in the vicinity.

As has been said, the expiration of the limitation period has led to the extinction of fines and “minor” crimes. while the responsibility for the homicide hypothesis was confirmed. In its excursus, in the reasons presented on June 1, however, the Court of Appeal of Venice went through the story, reaffirming the responsibilities that had already identified the judge of first instance of the court of Rovigo (Dr. Sefanutti).

Specifically, those highlighted by the judges of first and second instance consider serious gaps in safety at work, such as the lack of a risk assessment document, the non-consideration of the chemical risk, linked to the possibility of a chemical reaction such as the one that occurred on the day of the tragedy, a known eventuality, the judges explain. appeal, starting from the base. from consultants ’statements, even to a“ fresh graduate chemist ”. Similarly, judges ’considerations continue, staff were never trained to face a chemical risk, despite the nature of the plant’s work.

Again, in the grounds of the judgment on appeal it is reiterated as the process of transforming sewage sludge into fertilizer would have been different from the authorized procedure, using a completely different “recipe”. Not only that: it is also argued that, given the requests of the Province of Rovigo on the monitoring of emissions, the defendants with positions of responsibility on this front would have been in fact inert to the requests coming from the administration. .

“Regarding the endowment of systems of alarm or detection of noxious emissions – we actually read the motivations – the experts wrote in their report, and confirmed during the trial, that with a letter of March 29, 2012 the Province of Rovigo had asked Coimpo to assess the emissions of the D deposit (where the deadly chemical reaction, ndr) without the company. had acted in any way, even expressly refusing to carry out the follow-up requested by the control agency, which Coimpo’s management considered excessively onerous and costly, proposing new and different ones, rightly so. authorized because they were considered less effective (…) The presence of detectors in the workers of depot D, or of alarm systems destined to communicate punctually accidents or emergencies, would have been saving and determining; equipping all workers with preventive detectors, which would no doubt have detected the presence of hydrogen sulfide vapors already in the formation phase of the fog blanket, it would have allowed workers to be moved to a safe place long before the concentration of hydrogen sulfide reached lethal levels. “.

Dangerous lightning offenses and diffuse emissions are also confirmed without authorization with possible harmful effects for the population living in Cà Emo as “the release of not insignificant amounts, at least of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, was confirmed by Osptech analyzes” even “outside scale because they exceed the capacity of the instrument used “.

Regarding thea conflict related to the foul-smelling emissions that propagated periodically from the plant and that invested the town of Ca ‘Emo, the Judges of Appeal reaffirm and support the assessment of the colleagues at first instance: a confirmation of criminal liability, as the issues, as reported unanimously in the plaintiffs’ statements, were absolutely different from those produced by the farms in the area and, above all, coincided with the periods of activity of the plant, disappearing when it stopped.

“All residents – the judges still write to the reasons – they specified that the acid odor, coming from the factory or from the sludge transported to the inbound and outbound vehicles, was different and was not to be confused with the odors coming from the nearby pigsty; but above all olfactory discomfort accompanied the course of plant activity, disappearing for a few months after injury, and somehow resumed until September 2016 (when the plant was permanently blocked) and is now absent “..

Lawyers from the Lpteam network, lawyers Casellato, Ceruti, Guasti and Marcello expressed full satisfaction with the motivation of the decision.which highlight how “the accusatory system arises reinforced by this sentence of appeal, also in relation to compensation for damages to civil parties, adding that the Court of Appeal affirmed important principles of law, especially by the with regard to the predictability of the event in environmental and occupational safety crimes ”.

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