The Sarno River is a watercourse that originates in the Picentini mountains and extends to the Gulf of Naples. Its length is only 25 km, but its considerably extended water basin reaches 500 square kilometers involving almost one million people. Today it represents the most polluted perennial watercourse in Europe and is among the five most polluted in the world.
This condition of extreme pollution was born with the industrial development of the area in the '70s and is given mainly by illegal spills of industrial wastewater of highly harmful substances (including chromium, nickel, cadmium, and others), by discharges of pesticides, parasiticides, and agricultural waste by the many farmers in the area and by civil discharges from cities caused by the lack of infrastructure. From 2003 to 2006, a Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry was set up to investigate the causes of pollution of the Sarno River. Although the Commission has ascertained the causes and effects of the pollution, declaring that the environment is a risk factor for the development of diseases in humans, the lack of data has played a very important role, almost equal to the economic interest, in not putting a final solution to this problem. On the whole territory, the last complete update of the Cancer Registry was carried out between 2009 and 2011, about 10 years ago. To date, no in-depth epidemiological study has been launched to highlight the link between the pollution of the river and the diseases, even fatal, of those who live along its banks.
This is where a group of young people decided to found Controcorrente, an association of environmental protection that aims to raise awareness and fight for the depollution of the Sarno River. They all grew up together in the same apartment building, or along the same street, which stands on the most polluted point of the river and each of them has touched with his own hands its destructive effects.
Moved by the awareness of the ongoing environmental disaster and by the anger for the general indifference towards this condition, they have decided to join together to try to change things. Self-managed meetings, awareness-raising activities, protests, and environmental activism have become their weapons against this invisible and silent enemy that is slowly destroying the environment and people's lives.