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.
The incinerator in Acerra, which Berlusconi proudly showed off two years ago, is working part-time, because only one of the three lines is operational at any moment, burning an insufficient amount of waste with respect to its full capacity. The population in Acerra is quite concerned about a perceptible increase in pollution in the area, which observers indicate as coming from the incinerator.
The towns affected by the opening of a second landfill in the Vesuvius National Park are Terzigno, Boscoreale, Boscotrecase, and Trecase. The situation is quite tense in these four towns, also due to the inability of local, provincial, regional, and central governments, currently involved in bitter stand offs against each other, to show a clear way ahead that takes into consideration the view and objective interests of all the stakeholders.