Anthony M. Quattrone
The transfer of garbage from Naples and other cities in Campania to other regions in Italy is encountering a myriad of administrative, political, and technical obstacles, and the streets of the city are once again covered with about 2,400 tons of garbage.
The first obstacle encountered by the new administration headed by mayor Luigi de Magistris was the decision taken by the Regional Administrative Tribunal of Lazio on 31 May 2011, the day that the new mayor was elected, that the procedure adopted by the Campania Region in transferring garbage to a commercial firm, Italcave, in Puglia violated the agreements between the governments of Campania and Puglia. In particular, authorities complained that trucks from Campania were not sealed and that they were dispersing leachate on the road and bad odor in the areas that they drove through. The arrangements with Puglia were to take care of 45,000 tons of garbage, but due to the decision by the tribunal only 1,131 tons were delivered to the commercial firm.
In the meantime, the President of the Campania Region, Stefano Caldoro, had asked the central government, headed by his political ally Silvio Berlusconi, to issue a special legislative decree slightly changing the laws in force to allow Campania to transfer to firms in other Italian regions waste that was properly shredded and screened. On 12 July 2011, forty-two days after that the Regional Administrative Tribunal of Lazio had decided to block transfers from Campania to Puglia, the Berlusconi government enacted a decree partially allowing the transfer of waste. The decree, which requires the approval of Parliament within sixty days, is heavily opposed by the Northern League, who will fight it during the upcoming discussions in the House and the Senate.
Finally, there is some good news for the administration, because today the Council of State, which is a higher administrative tribunal, suspended the decision taken on 31 May 2011 by the Regional Administrative Tribunal of Lazio which had blocked the transfer of waste from Campania to Puglia, thus allowing the transfer of all properly shredded and screened waste currently sitting in temporary depots in Naples to firms in other regions. It is now expected that trucks will soon be leaving Naples and other cities in Campania to export waste that will be processed for a fee by commercial companies throughout Italy. Current legislation, however, places on the governors of each Region the responsibility for authorizing commercial firms to import and process waste.
Mayor Luigi de Magistris has learned the hard way that technical solutions which appear to be within reach are hard to implement when there are interest groups putting up roadblocks at every corner. Garbage separation and recycling is working in every area of the city where it has been implemented using the “door-to-door” model. Prior to implementing separation and recycling city-wide, it is necessary to remove from the streets the garbage sitting there and to free up the temporary depots. The Mayor has issued a fourth city order which provides for the opening of a new temporary depot which will provide the city with necessary relief.
De Magistris has also announced that by the end of this week the city will sign an agreement with a foreign country willing to take Neapolitan waste. He expressed concern that there is constant sabotage against every action that the city is taking to rid the streets of garbage because special interests want to force him and his administration to agree to the construction of a new incineration plant in the eastern side of Naples and to digging additional dumps. De Magistris stated that he would not publicize yet the terms of the agreement and the country involved because “as we go along with our plan to make Naples autonomous in terms of waste management, we have noted that processing plants come to a full stop, transfer of waste is reduced, and there is an attempt to create dissent among sanitation workers”.