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Land of contrasts

SOLVAYLAND is a long-term project currently underway that documents the territory in which in 1913 the Belgian industrialist Ernest Solvay saw a land rich in resources so as to be convinced to build a chemical plant for the manufacture of soda.

The territory includes the Livorno coast, where the main plant of Rosignano Solvay is located, up to the town of Saline di Volterra, crossing much of the Val di Cecina, in the Pisan hinterland. A land in the center of Etruria, rich in history and art expressed in the typical Tuscan natural landscapes depicting soft hills and Mediterranean scrub.

Solvay in Rosignano has been the protagonist of social contrasts for decades, some consider the factory a danger to the environment and the health of citizens, and others, on the other hand, show appreciation and devotion for those who at the beginning of the 20th century favored the construction of the country thus creating an economy in this territory.

In a UNEP report drawn up in the early 2000s, the coastal stretch in the municipality of Rosignano Marittimo is in the list of the 15 most polluted sites in the Mediterranean.
On the European website of the E-PRTR, (l’European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register) a declaration forthe year 2019 is available: over that year, Solvay discharged into the sea 1.5 tons of arsenic and derivatives, 122 kg of cadmium, 131 kg of chromium, 41 kg of mercury, 2.9 t of nickel, 5.7 t of lead, 15.7 t of zinc, 484 kg of dichloroethane.

Moreover, according to the 2009 estimates carried out by the CNR in Pisa, Solvay has discharged 400 tonnes of mercury and other pollutants (arsenic, cadmium, nickel lead, zinc, dichloroethane) into sea waters, over the years.

The white Caribbean beach of Rosignano bathed by a turquoise sea is the product of a century of chemical discharges that reach the sea through a ditch in which a milk-colored stream flows containing the substances spilled from the plant, while in the hinterland the exploitation of the territory and of its resources is concentrated above all on the extraction of rock salt, on the water supply and on the extraction of limestone, creating further environmental problems of considerable importance.

In the now passed century of Solvay's activity, In these lands of Tuscany surreal and paradoxical contrasts and social, environmental and cultural changes have emerged that have changed the territory and the way of living it.

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