Italy: Why is landfill an official secret?

This is a guest post by Cecilia Anesi and Giulio Rubino

A rally “for life” takes place today, starting in Terzigno, a small city of a complex of three, with Boscoreale and Boscotrecase, a few kilometres away from Naples. Protesters will come from the whole of Campania region, since many feel Terzigno’s fight against a new landfill is their fight for an alternative way of managing waste.

Citizens of the three towns, located at the bottom of Vesuvius National Park, have been in turmoil for days, as the Italian government attempts to open a new landfill in the park.

Vesuvius National Park already holds a major landfill, built by the government two years ago, breaching the law that institutes national parks. Moreover, this landfill contains a mix of unprocessed solid and toxic waste, and although this breaches EU regulations in matter
of waste, the landfill was built — as others — by issuing an “emergency decree”. Moreover, the same emergency decree (dlg 90/2008 issued by Berlusconi’s Government) turned landfills and incinerators into “military areas” protected by state secrecy laws (issued by the Prodi government) and thus inscrutable for the people, civil authorities and the press.

A week ago the “Movimento per la difesa del territorio/Area Vesuviana” (Movement for the defence of Vesuvius Area) noticed the increase in the number of waste trucks that were entering the landfill. Naples was once again covered in rubbish, and the government had to quickly find a solution before a media scandal would explode again.

The solution was found in sending as many trucks as possible to Terzigno’s landfill. Hundred of citizens of all ages started blocking the entrance, scared that as soon as that landfill was been full the government would inaugurate a new landfill in a quarry few hundred metres away.

On the second day, riot police were called in the scene. On mainstream Italian media the protesters were shown for a few seconds, and although the reasons of the protest weren’t explained in depth, it was possible to see some seriously injured people. The blocade was violently removed by riot police, and the rubbish trucks were escorted inside and outside the landfill as if they were carrying gold. People were prevented from peacefully demonstrating, and from physically blocking with their bodies the access to trucks into the landfill.

Locals claim to have the right to protest, as it is the state that is acting against the law — firstly by opening a landfill in a national park, secondly by making it wihout following EU regulations, thirdly by breaching the internationally recognised right to health and life, and last but not least, because the government is not acting transparently and democractically by preventing both citizens and the press from entering the landfills of Campania.

Moreover, people have the right to protest because it is a fundamental right included into the Italian Consitution, and Berlusconi’s government is simply ignoring it.

But, as the citizens of Terzigno and other places of Campania will say, when the State thinks as a business and acts as a dictatorship, democracy can be proclaimed dead.