Monthly Archives: January 2011

Garbage crisis: landfills are almost full

The environmental health councilor for the city of Naples, Paolo Giacomelli, is concerned that there is no clear indication from Regional and Provincial officials where Naples should be dumping garbage as of Tuesday, 18 January 2011.  According to Giacomelli, Naples will continue dumping garbage in the landfills located in Chiaiano, Santa Maria Capua Vetere and Caivano with certainty only until the evening of 17 January 2011.  Giacomelli is also concerned that the dump in Chiaiano is almost at maximum capacity and that it has been necessary to slowdown the unloading of compactor trucks.  Giacomelli told “Il Mattino” that if no instructions arrive regarding where to send the collected garbage, “piles of garbage might reappear in the city of Naples”.  The landfill in Chiaiano will be full by March when it is expected to be closed.

According to the financial daily “Il Sole 24 Ore”, the European Commission’s Environment Directorate is investigating the garbage emergency in Naples.  The newspaper reports that the EU has contracted a French company from Paris, the Bio Intelligence Service, to conduct a study titled “Implementing EU waste legislation for Green Growth”.  According to the financial daily, the objective of the EU is ”to attempt to analyze under a microscope and with a cool mind the folly regarding the Neapolitan garbage crisis”.


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Army is requested to continue helping Naples

City is almost clean

Lieutenant General Mario Morelli, commander of logistics for Southern Italy, receives his third star from Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on 27 November 2010, becoming also the Italian Army’s head of transportation and material. He is in charge of the troops that started cleaning up Naples on the same day.

Anthony M. Quattrone

According to the president of the Province of Naples, Luigi Cesaro, the presence of the Italian Army is still needed to ensure that Naples and its suburbs remain clean. The Italian Army units, commanded by Lieutenant General Mario Morelli, are scheduled to return to normal military duties at the end of January, thus getting out of the garbage collection business after dedicating over two months to cleaning up Naples and surrounding municipalities. The armed forces, although not equipped with the necessary garbage collection machinery and vehicles, have made do with available resources, gaining the gratitude of the citizens. Many soldiers who have worked right through the Christmas and New Year’s holiday period, are from Naples and southern Italy. Cesaro has put forward a request to the Italian government to extend the army’s mission by at least another six months, to ensure that a smooth transition to a totally civilian managed waste collection system is implemented.

In the meantime, the public prosecutor has begun an investigation into the allegation that an unusually high number of civilian garbage collectors employed by Lavajet, a company home-based in Genoa, were on sick leave during the holiday period. According to an article published on 8 January 2011 by “Il Mattino” on line, between fifteen and twenty percent of the Lavajet employees were absent during the holiday period. According to Giancarlo Vedeo, a Lavajet manager, it is appears that some workers are sabotaging the company to try to pressure it to hire certain individuals. Vedeo stated that Lavajet, which was awarded one of the five garbage collection contracts for Naples, has hired only workers identified by the city-controlled Asia enterprise. In Italy, collective labor agreements and some laws require that a company that is awarded a contract replacing another company, that was previously providing the same service, might be required to give priority in recruiting the workforce belonging to the company that it replaces. Lavajet contends that it is complying with the collective labor agreements and the law by employing workers who belonged to the previous company, Enerambiente.

Asia presidente, Claudio Cicatiello, recommends proceeding in a very firm manner with respect to the absenteeism recorded during the holiday season. He is moderately hopeful regarding the situation in the city, where approximately 1,500 metric tons of garbage are collected daily. He is concerned, however, about where to dump the garbage in the near future.


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Mystery regarding new garbage landfills for Naples

The Province of Naples is still full of uncollected garbage. Photo from:

Anthony M. Quattrone

On 4 January 2011, representatives of central and local institutions have reached a general agreement in Rome which should lead to the opening of two new major waste landfills in Campania, which are considered essential for resolving the ongoing waste disposal crisis in Naples and its province. There is some mystery regarding where the two landfills should be located. According to “Il Mattino” online, the plan foresees the reopening of the Macchia Soprana landfill in the province of Salerno and the opening of a new site in the municipality of Visciano, a town located in the province of Naples. Gianni Letta, the undersecretary of the Council of Ministers, representing the central government, met with Stefano Caldoro, the president of the Campania Region, Rosa Russo Iervolino, the Mayor of Naples, and the presidents of the five provinces composing the Campania Region (Avellino, Benevento, Caserta, Naples, and Salerno).

The expected “not in my backyard” reaction by the population and local administrators in the areas which should be hosting the two designated landfills was immediate. According to Domenico Montanaro, the mayor of Visciano, digging a landfill in his territory is absurd because there are no acceptable roads leading to the planned waste disposal area. He ironically asked reporters if there were plans to transport garbage by helicopters. Fifteen other mayors from the area near Visciano joined Montanaro in signing a document rejecting any proposal to dig a waste landfill in their area, and they invited central and regional authorities to immediately deny the information published by the media regarding the decisions taken on 4 January in Rome.

The president of the Province of Naples, Luigi Cesaro, who was present at the meeting in Rome, denied that any new landfills had been identified. He stated that “someone reported that during the meeting a decision had been taken that the area of Visciano would host the future landfill for the city of Naples. They are off target and I firmly deny these indiscretions which don’t even take into account the geography of the area and the difficulties of hosting a waste disposal plant. The only result of these indiscretions is to create protests and to foment disorder”. Cesaro confirmed that any decisions affecting the Province of Naples would be discussed with local administrators and stakeholders, in order to reach maximum consensus.

The second site, Macchia Soprana, which is located in the area of Serre in the province of Salerno, is currently at the center of an investigation by the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Salerno due to reports that liquid from the existing landfill is polluting the river Sele. The mayor of Serre, Palmiro Cornetta, stated that it is necessary to reclaim the land around the current landfill before any further decisions can be taken.

In the meanwhile, Campania President, Stefano Caldoro, expressed his satisfaction with the decisions taken during the meeting in Rome, noting that the first step of cleaning up the city of Naples and its suburbs had been completed and that now the second step, aiming at a mid-term solution, had been taken with the decision to open new land fills.

The mystery regarding the location of the landfills is still unresolved.

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Skyrockets damage 17th century church

Inside the Gerolamini Church (photo from wikipedia)

Anthony M. Quattrone

A monumental 17th century church in downtown Naples, the Gerolomini, was damaged by skyrockets and fireworks which landed on its roof during the New Year’s celebrations.  The church, which contains important stuccos, paintings and sculptures, was reopened to the general public in September 2009, after being closed for almost thirty years.  The New Year’s blasts sent glass mosaics flying and caused several stuccos to detach from walls.  The police are conducting an investigation trying to identify who shot skyrockets and fireworks on to the roof of the church. 

Father Alessandro Marsano, rector of the Gerolamini, discovered the broken glass and the stuccos on the pavement of the Church on the morning of 1 January, when he opened the church doors for usual visits by tourists.  The fire department sealed off the area as a precautionary measure, especially because there are big pieces of broken glass on the verge of falling.  The police discovered on the bell tower several unexploded firecrackers, which had to be carefully removed by specialists.  According to local the Neapolitan daily, Il Mattino, the unexploded projectiles provide excellent leads for the police, who are concentrating their attention on several apartments whose balconies look directly upon the church.  The newspaper reports that the police are also reviewing several home movies shot during the midnight celebrations, which might provide additional leads regarding who is responsible for the damaged done to the monumental church.

To see additional photographs, visit:

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Skyrockets and burning garbage

Anthony M. Quattrone

Fire spreads from garbage to a car during New Year's celebration in Naples. Photo from "Il Mattino" ( 1 Jan 2011).

Neapolitans celebrated the arrival of the new year by chaotically and haphazardly exploding thousands of skyrockets and other fireworks. Like every year, during the time frame from midnight to about two hours later, Naples was an undeclared “off-limits” area for pedestrians and cars alike. During this time, the chances of being hit by skyrockets or by stray bullets is considered critically high. This year, the piles of uncollected garbage, spread throughout most of the city and the suburbs, became a tempting target for occasional arsonists. By dawn of the first day of the year, the authorities reported that the “midnight battle” had claimed one death and seventy injured. A 39-year old died from wounds caused by a stray bullet in Crispano, a town in the province of Naples. A 29-year old tourist was hit by a stray bullet in his face, but he miraculously survived the injury, expelling the bullet stuck in his nose with a sneeze. A boiler exploded in Volla, a in the province of Naples, destroying a building and injuring two persons. Many others suffered severe burns, lost limbs or lost an eye.

Authorities had enrolled the support of soccer players, musicians, and actors, to plead the citizenry to not explode illegal fireworks. Firemen spent part of the evening of the 31 December watering down the piles of garbage in downtown Naples hoping to reduce the chances that stray rockets would dangerously ignite the waste. In spite of the preventive work done by the fire department and the continuous appeals by the authorities, garbage caught fire in many parts of the city. The burning garbage set off fires that spread to parked cars and, in a couple of cases, also to buildings.

Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi had promised during the past several months, on several occasions, to rid Naples of garbage, but he failed to keep his promises. The last time, immediately after Christmas, he had promised that Naples would have been clean by New Year’s eve. By midnight some parts of the city and the suburbs were clean, thanks to the praiseworthy work performed by the Italian Army, who had been deployed to collect thousands of tons of garbage in the downtown area and in the suburbs. Naples mayor Rosa Russo Iervolino, publicly thanked the Army for their work, noting that only through the cooperation of all institutions, from local to national, it is possible for Naples to climb out of the garbage crisis.

According to councilman Giovanni Romano, who is responsible for Regional environmental services, “the waste collection plants have worked well during the night and by now the city should be rid of garbage.” Garbage collection started up immediately after the midnight celebrations and the waste plants and dumping grounds have been open since 3 A.M. Romano speculates that Naples and suburbs should be clean within the next ten to twelve days. Time will tell if Romano’s assessment is correct. In the meantime, the burning garbage is still smoking in many parts of the city.

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