A kind of guerrilla has been taking place in the last few days in the streets of Terzigno, a small town near Naples, where there is already a tip and the Italian government plans to open a new landfill to solve the waste dumping problem in the area. This may sound as a classic NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) syndrome, but things are much more complex than that.
The existing landfill in Terzigno has been mishandled so much that it has become an health hazard and residents are fed up of breathing poisonous gases and being subject to an unusual number of health diseases, ranging from skin infections to cancer. The last thing they want to hear about is another, and bigger, dump to be opened.
The first days of the protest were peaceful, but last week was marked by many scuffles and violent clashes between the population, trying hard to block the bin lorries, and the police. Shop windows were smashed, stones were thrown to the garbage trucks, some of them were even set on fire. Several people, policemen and protesters as well, were injured.
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi faced with threat of huge fines by the EU Environmental Commission, has promised last week to solve the situation in ten days.
For him is not only a question of restoring peace: he’s putting his political credibility and charisma at stake, since he has often pointed to his government’s resolution of the Naples rubbish crisis in 2008 as a proof of his entrepreneurial skills.
On Friday Berlusconi said he had reached a deal with mayors in the Naples region to end the garbage crisis. By the end of next week we will have a law modifying the document which led to the opening of the second landfill he said to AFP.
The idea is to shelve the plan and built the tip somewhere else, may be just a few kilometers away. In the meantime, though, more than 2,000 tons of garbage have piled up in the streets of Naples, as they did two years ago, and tension is still running high.