Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

A Trashed-Out Naples Looks for Help to Battle the “Ecomafia”

Posted by K.E. White on January 16, 2008

The streets of Naples, Italy are covered in ever-growing stacks of trash. Unable to process their waste, Naples looks for help to face the spoiled remains of “Ecomafia”.

Italy's Trash Problem

Germany has offered Naples a temporary fix:

Trash from Naples is being carted north to Germany for incineration, as part of a one-time relief effort to ease the weeks old waste buildup in the Italian city.
But the deal, struck last year, to transport 30,000 tons of pressed Neapolitan garbage to an incinerator in
Bremerhaven, has met with critics, who charge that EU nations should be able to process their own waste.

Since September 2007, about 8,000 tons of rotting food, tossed containers and other refuse has been burned in the northern port city in the state of Bremen, said Michael Ortmanns, a spokesman for Bremen’s minister for environment, traffic, building and Europe.

“The garbage is pressed into cubes in Naples and brought here by train,” he said, adding the garbage is from Italian households and does not include any hazardous waste or material or chemicals. (Associated Press)

Other Italian regions have been slow to respond to Naples’ crisis. From Vittorio Herandez at AHN News:

Rome, Italy (AHN) – Even if Germany agreed to help solve Italy‘s garbage crisis for a hefty fee, Rome is still in search of local solutions to its trash problem. But the Italian government apparently has more difficulty convincing other regions than its neighbor to take in Naples‘ tons of household garbage. So far 6 Italian regions have refused Naples‘ refuse, only Sardinia had accepted.

Sardinia chairman Renato Soru agreed to accept 1,500 tons of Naples‘ and Campania‘s garbage, unseparated and untreated. Despite Italian Prime Minister Renato Prodi chairing the meeting between the central government and local authorities, the governments of Lombardy, Friuli, Umbria, Basilicata, Liguria and Marche thumbed down Naples‘ trash.

Who’s to blame for this embarrassing episode? Herandez singles out the “ecomafia”:

The meeting was the debut of Italian Garbage Czar Gianni de Gennaro. On his first day in Naples, he promised, “Answers won’t be long in coming. I’m accustomed to keeping my word.” He pledged to announce new developments by Thursday.

Italian Environment Minister Antonio Pecoraro Scanio blamed the ecomafia for the region’s garbage crisis. He referred to the Camorra, an organized crime syndicate that illegal operates Naples‘ unauthorized landfill sites.

The “Ecomafia” is no joke. CSM’s Sophie Arie looks into the world of Mafia treasured trash:

Millions of tons of industrial and urban waste are trucked into the region and dumped illegally every year, poisoning farmland and contaminating public waste-disposal sites. For the authorities, it is a crisis. For the Mafia, it is a gold mine.

“Me, I can turn waste into gold,” one Mafioso, nicknamed King Midas, told his police interrogators.

According to Legambiente, Italy‘s environmental watchdog, 13.1 million tons of toxic waste “disappeared” into the hands of the southern Italian Mafia in 2003. In the last decade, the ecoMafia has made132 billion euros ($159 billion).

The Mafia’s move from aggressive extortion tactics to dealing in rubbish is a sign of the times.

“The Mafia have changed strategy. They have moved from [overt] violence into [more legitimate] business,” says Pierluigi Vigna, head of Italy‘s Anti-Mafia Commission.

The racket is lucrative for two reasons. First, Mafia hide behind apparently legitimate waste- disposal firms, which appeal to unscrupulous companies tempted to remove their waste cheaply. Second, illegal construction and waste dumping make use of Mafia territory. In Campania, observers are loath to report a truck dumping sludge.

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6 Responses to “A Trashed-Out Naples Looks for Help to Battle the “Ecomafia””

  1. […] planning is underway for purpose built incinerators, residents have taken matters into their own hands setting pile after pile alight. Hardly […]

  2. […] planning is underway for purpose built incinerators, residents have taken matters into their own hands setting pile after pile alight. Hardly […]

  3. […] planning is underway for purpose built incinerators, residents have taken matters into their own hands setting pile after pile alight. Hardly […]

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