Tag Archives: garbage in naples

New Mayor and Campania Region President to Brussels to unfreeze funds

Mayor calls for ridding city of garbage in five days with help of all

Anthony M. Quattrone

Via Speranzella in downtown Naples loaded with garbage (photo Siano, "La Repubblica")

The new mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris, and the President of the Campania Region, Stefano Caldoro, will be going to Brussels on 22 June 2011 to discuss the Campania waste management issue with the European Union, hoping to unfreeze 150 million euro that Europe had earmarked for investments in Naples and Campania.  The funds, which, according to news reports, were blocked by European officials mainly due to lack of trust and confidence in local administrators from Naples and Campania, are desperately needed to fund stalled projects aiming at re-launching the economy in the city and the Region.  Caldoro, who was elected last year, and de Magistris, who was elected only three weeks ago, are hoping that European officials will provide them with a chance to prove that they deserve the trust and confidence of the European Union.

Luigi de Magistris appointed the new Naples city government on 13 June 2011. He nominated twelve officials to form the executive branch of the Naples city government.  Each official is responsible for several departments apiece.  One of the twelve officials, Tommaso Sodano, will also serve as deputy mayor, in addition to occupying the critical seat in charge of waste management.   The mayor can count on a solid majority of 34 of the 48 members of the City Council, the legislative body.  Twenty nine councilpersons come from the parties and groups forming his initial coalition in the two-round election system, while an additional five belong to formations that have supported him in the run-off election on 30 and 31 May 2011.

The president of the new City Council is professor Raimondo Pasquino, the Chancellor of the University of Salerno, who was elected with 38 votes coming from the parties supporting the new Mayor and from centrist formations that supported the chancellor’s bid to become mayor of Naples in the recently held elections.  Professor Pasquino lost in the first round of the mayoral elections, gaining almost ten percent of the vote.  Mayor de Magistris, who admires Pasquino very much, asked him to lead City Council, hoping to forge a strong alliance between the city government and the Council, in the interest of the Naples.  This is the first time since 1993 that the coalition winning the elections does not take over the leadership of the City Council.

The first decision by the new city government has been to tackle the failed waste management system that has brought Naples to the center of world attention on many occasions since the mid-1990s with pictures of high rising mounds of trash on the streets and news regarding collusion between oranized crime, politicians, and public officials.  While the city’s priority is to immediately remove the 2,000 metric tons of garbage piled up in many parts of the city, the first executive order targets a permanent solution, in line with campaign promises.  The city is immediately increasing the door-to-door waste collection system adding five areas to the eight currently served, raising the participating population from 146 to 325 thousand by the end of September. The areas served by the door-to-door waste collections system are not experiencing the problems seen in other parts of the city, where high mounds of garbage bags are piling up to record levels.

Removing 2,000 tons of garbage will take approximately five days according to the Mayor, if a place to dump the collected waste is found.  He and the president of the Campania Region, Stefano Caldoro, were counting on an urgent decree by Silvio Berlusconi’s government allowing Naples and the Campania Region to export trash to other Italian Regions willing to help.  Regrettably, internal strife between Berlusconi’s party, the People of Liberty (PdL) and the Northern League stalled the decision until sometime next week, with the former attempting to throw roadblocks of all types to avoid that waste from Campania be exported to other regions.  The inaction on the part of Berlusconi’s government has caused serious embarrassment to the party’s local leadership, to include President Caldoro.

The waste management system in Italy is shared between four levels of government.  City hall is responsible only for collecting and transporting waste.  The Provincial government is responsible for the processing, recycling, and disposal of waste.  The Regional government is responsible for medical waste disposal, for the movement of waste across its borders, and for ensuring that there is an integrated waste management system within its jurisdiction.  The national government is to ensure general oversight over Regional management plans, and to intervene to guarantee cooperation among local institutions, thus ensuring maximum integration of services in line with European Union standards and guidelines.

The mayor of Naples is tackling the waste management problem at source.  Without properly differentiating between the types of waste produced, thus separating recyclables from other types of waste, and enforcing a door-to-door system, Naples will continue to lag behind all other major cities in the world.  The Provincial government and the Campania Region have done almost nothing in the past year in terms of identifying new landfills or building processing plants, but they blame the former Mayor, Rosa Russo Iervolino, for having done too little to implement a modern trash separation system to raise the level of recycling.  The former mayor, on the other hand, blamed the central and regional governments for not having provided necessary funds and assistance for improving recycling in Naples.  The new mayor, Luigi de Magistris, is fighting hard to obtain 8.25 million euro from the Campania Region for funding the door-to-door collection system, and, according to news reports, it appears that the president of the Region, Stefano Caldoro, might release the funds next week.

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Mystery regarding new garbage landfills for Naples

The Province of Naples is still full of uncollected garbage. Photo from: http://www.ilmediano.it/aspx/visArticolo.aspx?id=12104

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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Berlusconi promises again to rid Naples of garbage

Anthony M. Quattrone

A child walks through uncollected garbage on his way back from school in the historic Spanish district of Naples on November 22, 2010 AFP Photo / Roberto Salomone

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

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Vesuvius National Park becoming garbage dump

Demonstrators clash with police

Anthony M. Quattrone

The political conflict that has developed within Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right coalition, which has been governing Italy since May 2008, has added a new level of complexity to the already difficult-to-resolve garbage crisis in Naples.  The public acrimony manifested by Berlusconi towards his former ally, Gianfranco Fini, and his followers, is having a ripple effect in Naples and Campania.  Mayors, presidents of provinces, and the president of the Campania Region, who belong to the same center-right coalition led by Berlusconi, are in conflict with each other, and, in many cases, are at odds with Rome.  The Berlusconi-Fini feud pits the Prime Minister against the President of the Chamber of Deputies, setting in motion a significant institutional crisis within the whole system of governance.  The institutional crisis could have not come at a worse time for Naples and the Campania Region.

Campania and most of the cities in the region do not have an integrated waste management system.  Most garbage ends up in landfills, with some refuse transported to Germany or Sicily, and very little is recycled, while very few incineration plants are operational.  The initial hope provided by Silvio Berlusconi’s promise to tackle the Naples garbage crisis in May 2008, as a priority activity of his newly elected government, has now dissipated as garbage reappears on the streets of the former Capital of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, and as demonstrators clash with police units, protesting over the decision made by the government to dig a new landfill in the environmentally protected area on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius.  

When Berlusconi took over two years ago, the streets of Naples were filled with mountains of garbage.  Within a few weeks, his government decided to open a new landfill in Chiaiano, which is a north-western suburb of Naples, with a population of about 23,000, causing very determined protests by the inhabitants.  The Italian government militarized the landfill and placed the streets leading to the landfill under heavy police guard.  A year later, during the night of 14 June 2009, the Italian government gave orders to begin using the landfill in Terzigno, a town located about 20 km east of Naples, inside the Vesuvius National Park, without giving the population any advance notice that the landfill was going to be used.  The reaction of the population was very strong, but the government promised to compensate the town with a payment of 20 million euro, which, over a year later, has not yet arrived.  In meantime, the government has now decided to open up a second landfill in Terzigno, causing extreme and justified anger on the part of the local population. Read whole article

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Garbage crisis explodes again

Anthony M. Quattrone

The garbage emergency in Naples has exploded again.  Tons of garbage is on the streets in many parts of the city due to a combination of problems dealing with the outsourcing of the collection system and how to dispose of the garbage collected.

On the garbage collection front, a decision made by Paolo Giacomelli, the Naples city councilor responsible for the environment, to redesign the town for the purpose of awarding garbage collection contracts, has led to major industrial action on the part of the workers currently employed to collect garbage, who fear that they will lose their jobs.

ASIA, a company that was formerly owned by the city of Naples, is responsible for collecting garbage in an area that covers little over than half of the city.  Currently, a company from Venice, Enerambiente, collects garbage in the rest of the city.  Giacomelli decided to split the latter area into five sections, not allowing any single company to be awarded more than two contracts.  Giacomella made the decision in order to reduce the power of any single company. The five sections, which account for a population of about 310 thousand inhabitants, have been awarded to three companies from northern Italy.  Two sections have been awarded to company from Savona, two to Enerambiente from Venice, and one to a company from Genoa. Read whole article

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