Naples, the Mafia and the garbage

, by Georgia McKinson, Stéphanie-Fabienne Lacombe

All the versions of this article: [Deutsch] [English]

Naples, the Mafia and the garbage
On the streets of Naples Photo: Private

For years the garbage problem of Naples has not been solved. Now the European Court has interfered and has convicted the region with a fine of 20 million Euro and 120 000 Euro per day in delay since the Verdict of 2010. However even here the Mafia has a finger in the pie.

Burning garbage mountains in the city centre, in wildlife sanctuaries storing garbage loads, an incomplete waste removal-and recycling system, “Rifiuti” are a challenging subject of the city in the south of Italy. The waste removal problem extends to the whole region of Campania. The negative effects on the health of the residents (the area in north Naples has a conspicuously high cancer rate), the pollution of the environment, as well as lacking recycling and damage decreasing waste disposal found the verdict of this week, which still requires under the actual demands of the EU-commission a 56 million Euro fine because of noncompliance with European standards. A clear signal to the region, to change something about the situation.

Already for the time 2002-2010 a fine was imposed, whereby a special notation was made on the around 900 tons of not yet been removed garbage which was instead temporary stored. The president of the region Campania, Vincenzo De Luca (Democratic Party) commented the decision: “In the last five years not much has happened to solve the garbage removal problem. We need initiatives to accelerate the problem solving process and thereby begin, to remove the garbage bags mounted over the years. We are trying to promptly develop with the EU a programme which will restore our lost credibility.”

The Movement “Terra dei Fuochi”

For more than 15 years the removal infrastructure is in deficit and denounced by the European institutions. For 10 years the “Movement burning Land” (Movimento Terra dei Fuochi) is active on a regional level against illegal garbage dumps – and incinerators. In the next commune elections they want to participate with a list. They chart on their website toxic garbage storages and the distribution of toxic gases, making reports, trying to conciliate and clarify. Their actions shows success, ten thousands demonstrators came to their rallies.

Yet the garbage problem is not limited to the garbage removal of the cities. Instead the mismanagement goes 30 years back. Then the burrowing of toxic garbage was for a long time a lucrative business for the Campanian Mafia, the “Camorrah”. Details were made public in the last years through Carmine Shiavone, who organised for year’s garbage removals and now works together with the Justice. Particularly the businesses from the economic strong north Italy’s are those which use the removal services for chemical waste or also Atom waste. At the moment investigations are on the way to find out which other European states are involved. The soil in the region is partly very badly contaminated, and the thereon cultivated vegetable is harmful to the health. Today in spite of the protests of the movement and the public statements of the journalist Roberto Saviano, author of the book “Gomorrah” the burnings will continue, whereby toxic gases are set free. Saviano also denounces the daily private burning of all sorts of garbage, including house garbage, plastic and drugs. Politics showed itself indifferent for a long time. The casualty between cancer rate and garbage dumps was rejected, and Schiavones statements from 1997 stayed long disregarded. However with increasing public pressure, prevention programmes are going to be financed now and even soldiers are going to be sent in the region, to fight against the garbage mafia. If a European solution can be found, remains to be seen.

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