Anthony M. Quattrone
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi promised on 27 November 2010 that in two weeks’ time Naples will be garbage free. It’s the second time in the last two months that he has promised to remove garbage from the streets of Naples. Regrettably, he did not keep the one he made on 22 October 2010, and now the streets of Naples have accumulated 2,700 metric tons of uncollected garbage (i.e., about 6 million pounds).
Most people had reason to believe Berlusconi in October, because in 2008, after winning the national elections, he got the garbage off the streets, as promised during the election campaign. On 21 May 2008, Berlusconi held his first cabinet meeting in Naples and ten months later, on 26 March 2009, he returned to inaugurate the new incinerator in Acerra, where most of the garbage produced by the former capital of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was to be treated. During the inauguration ceremony in Acerra, Berlusconi declared that the garbage emergency in Naples was over. Unfortunately, the Acerra plant, which is composed of three independent processing units, has never worked at full capacity.
Berlusconi’s new promise to rid the city of the garbage sitting on the streets appears to be a “mission impossible” to many observers due to a combination of technical and political issues.
On the technical side, the garbage sitting on the streets can be picked up in a couple of days, but the problem is where to put it. The Acerra incinerator is not working at full capacity, existing landfills are almost full, the digging of new landfills are at a standstill due to “not-in-my-backyard” protests by people living in the affected communities, and very few Regional governments have expressed their willingness to process any garbage from Campania. The Italian Army is sending 400 troops with equipment to assist in picking up the garbage and in securing designated storage depots and landfills. Several cities have sent compactor garbage trucks to assist in picking up and processing the garbage. The towns of Avellino and Caserta have agreed to take approximately 250 tons of garbage per day from Naples in exchange of being allowed to use the Acerra incinerator.
On the political side, Berlusconi is facing three main political problems in solving the garbage crisis. Continue reading