Anthony M. Quattrone
Where has all the garbage gone? This is the question that many in Naples are asking.
The crisis that overtook the city and many parts of the Campania Region between the summers of 2006 and 2008 seems to have been miraculously resolved with the change in government in May 2008, when the center-right coalition headed by Silvio Berlusconi replaced Romano Prodi’s ailing center-left administration. Berlusconi had promised the electorate that, if elected, he would have resolved the region’s waste disposal crisis as a matter of national emergency, linking the worldwide negative press, with front page photos of Naples submerged in garbage, to potential economic repercussions on the whole of the “Italy system”, ranging from tourism to products “made in Italy”.
There is no doubt that Berlusconi has successfully freed the streets of Naples from mountains of garbage, which up to now, with very few exceptions, have not returned. There is also no doubt that his success in removing garbage from the sights of the citizenry has been instrumental in leading the center-right coalition to win three major elections held over the past year in Naples and Campania. In May 2008, Berlusconi’s coalition won a majority of seats in Campania for the European Parliament, and placed Luigi Cesaro to head the provincial government of Naples. Last March, Berlusconi’s coalition, supported by the Union of Democrats of the Center, successfully won the elections, leading Stefano Caldoro to replace Antonio Bassolino as governor of the Campania Region. Bassolino has been blamed by the media as the principal politician responsible for the garbage crisis in Campania.
Has Berlusconi solved the problem? If yes, is it solved on a permanent basis? If yes, is it solved in a legally sustainable basis? These questions are surfacing in a series of investigate reports by local and national journalists.
In an article published by the national weekly, L’Espresso, on 25 March 2010, Emiliano Fittipaldi and Claudio Pappaianni reported that the landfill sites chosen by the Berlusconi government for collecting the waste that the city of Naples and most of the cities in the Campania Region are producing do not have adequate leachate draining systems. Therefore, the sewage liquids that are produced in the landfills must to be collected several times a day, and taken to sites where the filthy fluids can be properly treated. In the case of the landfill located in Ferrandelle, the situation is creating an emergency because the leachate is threatening to overflow and contaminate the surrounding agricultural and grazing fields. The landfill, which is located in the province of Caserta in between Casal di Principe, Santa Maria La Fossa, and Grazzanise, has been declared by the Italian government as a national strategic interest location, thus placing it under military guard. Currently, twenty tanker trucks remove every day the liquid from Ferrandelle, which covers an area of about three square meters, to transport it to other unspecified locations, at the cost of 1,800 Euro per trip, for a total of 36,000 Euro per day. The journalists have calculated that the Berlusconi government has spent approximately 20 million Euros since it has decided to use the Ferrandelle landfill almost two years ago. According to Fittipaldi and Pappaianni the sewage liquids produced in Ferrandelle might very well be flowing into the old channel system, called the “Regi Lagni”, built in 1610 by the Spanish Viceroy ruling Naples, to reclaim the lands constantly flooded by the Clanio river and to provide an irrigation system for the fertile agricultural lands. The Regi Lagni are 56 km long, and cover 1,095 square meters, 99 communes, in the provinces of Naples, Caserta, and Benevento.
Ludovica Luongo published an article in Il Corriere Flegreo on 17 april 2010 reporting that the Finance Police had arrested twenty-two managers of buffalo farms in the area of the Regi Lagni charging them with polluting the water and damaging the environment. The managers are accused of depositing many different types of waste into the Regi Lagni, to include carcass dumping, liquid and solid refuse, solvents, industrial waste, oven slag and other by-products. The Finance Police has placed seals on 25 farms and has also impounded four public water treatment facilities in Villa Literno, Marcianise, Orta di Atella e Marigliano.
The public is quite concerned about the news coming from investigative reporters regarding the status of the Regi Lagni because the untreated waters from the channel system flow into the Tyrrhenian Sea, north of Naples. The quality of the water in Cuma and the whole of the Domitian coast is unacceptable and will probably lead health authorities to forbid swimming during the upcoming summer.