On Friday, authorities in the port city of Vlora seized a ferry with a large amount of hazardous waste aboard that was being smuggled into the country. Today, the court ordered the detention in prison of three of the six people arrested, and house arrest for two others.
It is suspected that the waste included asbestos, a fibrous mineral once used in construction that is known to cause a number of cancers and diseases.
The police arrested six individuals including the captain and deputy captain of the vessel, the driver of the van, owners of the company the waste was being transported to, and the director of Euroferries. It is believed that authorities intercepted a network of hazardous waste trafficking that is coming from Italy to be buried in an illegal landfill in Vlore.
The materials were found onboard the ferry coming from Brindisi, Italy through a cleaning firm called “Delfini 1” on behalf of “Kornuzi”, a waste and recycling company. The documentation pertaining to the hazardous load listed the waste as chemical cleaning products. Those that have been arrested have denied the charges while the managers of the ferry claim that the waste was from renovations carried out on the vessel.
As well as the materials found on the vessel, police have seized 40 cubic metres of suspected illegal substances found in warehouses around the locale of the ferry port. A further 10 barrels were seized that are believed to contain illicit materials.
Police suspect the companies smuggled large amounts of hazardous waste before, with local media reporting that this happened at least 15 times.