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Coal power plant in Saline Joniche, Italy

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In Saline Joniche, on the southern tip of Calabria, SEI s.p.a. presented a project to build a 1320 MW coal-fired power plant. SEI S.p.A. is a company held by the Swiss Repower Group (57.5%), the Hera Group (20%), the engineering company Foster Wheeler Italiana S.r.l. (15%), and the investment company Apri Sviluppo S.p.A. (7.5%). Coal will be procured on the international market and delivered by sea through the Saline Joniche port. The installation is designed to process locally produced biomass in addition to burning coal.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Coal power plant in Saline Joniche, Italy
State or province:Province of Reggio Calabria, Calabria
Location of conflict:Saline Joniche, Montebello Jonico municipality
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Ports and airport projects
Thermal power plants
Specific commodities:Electricity
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The Ultra-Supercritical project consist in the construction of two 660 MW plants; a covered coal bunker with a storage capacity of 300.000t; accumulation areas for ash, gypsum and limestone; two 35 km power line (380 KV) will bring electricity produced to the National grid. In addition, the project includes structural interventions on the Sant’Elia port, amounting to 50 million euro. SEI spa requested a 50 years grant on the port areas for the realization and management of a marine terminal at the service of the coal power plant. The company will use for its activity approximately 25% of the port surface.

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Project area:32
Level of Investment for the conflictive project1,317,800,000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:6,300 [inhabitants of Montebello Jonico Municipality]
Start of the conflict:2007
Company names or state enterprises:SEI S.p.A
Repower Group from Switzerland - Major investor
Hera group from Italy
Foster Wheeler Italiana S.r.l from Italy
Apri Sviluppo S.p.A from Italy
Relevant government actors:Italian government, Ministry of the Environment, Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Region Calabria, Province of Reggio Calabria, municipality of Monte Bello Jonico, Government of the Kanton Graubünden (Switzerland)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:From Italy: Coordinamento delle Associazioni dell'Area Grecanica (, Greenpeace Italia (; Legambiente (; WWF Calabria (; LIPU (‎).
From Switzerland: Zukunft statt Kohle ( WWF Graubünden (
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Referendum other local consultations
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
The mobilization has gone beyond Italian borders, at 1000 km away from Saline Joniche, to Kanton Graubünden in Switzerland. The two campaigns against the project exchanged information and shared strategies to coordinate efforts. The Calabrian committees travelled to Switzerland to raise awareness about local situation and vice versa to testify in Calabria supports and outcomes of the Swiss mobilization.
The Swiss campaign used several forms of mobilization including public letters to the energy company signed by senior Swiss scientists, conferences with representatives from South America whose populations are locally affected by coal mining projects, the involvement of politicians and NGOs, open letters to local newspapers, demonstrations and artistic public protests. The campaign then organized a plebiscite that demanded to deny publicly co-owned companies (such as Repower) any right to invest in coal-fired power plants.
The campaign against the Saline Joniche project is included in the largest campaigns at national and international level against coal power plants. In summer 2014 the Rainbow Warrior ship of Green Peace arrived in Saline Joniche during its 'Mediterranean Energy Tour', to campaign for a shift in energy investments away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy to help avert the worst impacts of climate change. [1 ]
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Other Environmental impacts, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Other Environmental impactsThe plant would emit in the air 7,600,000 t/year of CO2; 2.621 t/year of NOx and 2,330 t/year of SOx and 291 t/year of dusts [2]
The plant would have local impact on the marine and terrestrial ecosystem of the Hellenic area and put at risk 18 archaeological restricted areas and 5 Sites of Community Importance [European Commission Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC)] [3]
In the coastal area around Saline Joniche there are unique Bergamot orange plantations. This rarely cultivated fruit is used for tea and perfumes. These traditional plantations would be threatened by the new installation. [4]
Saline Joniche is located in an area affected by seismic and geological activities. The Carbon Capture and Storage system, if implemented, could increase the risks of earthquakes. Italian legislation prohibits the use of CCS systems in highly seismic areas [6].
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Deaths, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Other Health impactsIn 2012 Greenpeace promoted a study to estimate the impacts of Italian coal power plants emissions based on the methods used in a research issued by the European Environment Agency (EEA) concerning the air pollution caused by industrial facilities. Following Greenpeace data the plant emissions would provoke 44 deaths/year. [2]
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Other socio-economic impactsA greek-influenced dialect is still being spoken in that region and architecturally, there are also greek-influenced cultural heritage sights, so that it became known as Area Grecanica. It also has landscapes of particular beauty. Various economic 'development' projects have been pursued there that have ended as ruins, because the money was siphoned away to the Mafia. More recently, the region has made important strides at protecting it's landscape, engaged in efforts at renaturation of rivers etc. and is working towards recognition as world cultural heritage sight.
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (undecided)
Strengthening of participation
Withdrawal of company/investment
In May 2014 SEI spa litigated against local activists for the diffusion of satirical cartoons and informative flyers against the project, saying those cartoons were damaging the image of the Company. The request for damages amount to € 4 million.
A few months after, during a campaign against fossil fuels, Greenpeace affixed in Saline Joniche the incriminated images to challenge SEI spa.
Proposal and development of alternatives:The province, the university and local associations, presented few alternatives for the restoration of the industrial and port area.
The desire for a sustainable development for the area has emerged through various proposals as the idea of creating a new tourist port or the proposal to create a protected marine park.
Unfortunately, none of them has yet been seriously considered.
In 2014, an environmental remediation project on the industrial area of Saline Joniche, won the Holcim Awards 2014 for Europe. The Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction is an international competition that recognizes innovative projects and future-oriented concepts on regional and global levels. A total of USD 2 million in prize money is awarded in each three-year cycle. The Anthropic park - Freshwater ecological reserve and remediation that connects nature with the imprints of humanity won the top prize. [5]
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The conflict in Italy is still ongoing and, therefore, the success so far unclear.
The Swiss part of the campaign was clearly successful, because popular resistance forced Repower corporation, the main investor, via a legally binding plebiscite to withdraw its investments from the coal plant.
In Italy there has been a gradual strengthening of the participation and the use of various forms of mobilization.
The authorization process for the plant is still in progress, but whether and who may be financing it remains unclear.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

[6] Legislative decree concerning geological storage of carbon dioxide
[click to view]

Grubünden plebiscite text
[click to view]

Official Bulletin of the Calabria Region, Regional Energy Plan, 2005
[click to view]

Environmental Impact Assessment and Authorization process documents
[click to view]

Presidencial decree on environmental compatibility of the project, June 2012
[click to view]

Graubünden plebiscite result
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Green Peace campaign 2014
[click to view]

[2] Green Peace study on Environmental impacts 2012
[click to view]

[3] Article on environmental pollution.
[click to view]

[4] Document on Bergamot plantations
[click to view]

[5] Article on the Holcim Awards 2014 for Europe, Saline Joniche project
[click to view]

Various documents
[click to view]

Articles on the Saline Joniche project,
[click to view]

Project document, March 2012
[click to view]

Document on health impacts
[click to view]

Article concerning protests against Hera group
[click to view]

Repower website
[click to view]

NoCarbone SAline Joniche webiste
[click to view]

Region Calabria website, TAR petition
[click to view]

SEI S.p.A. webpage
[click to view]

Swiss mobilization and websites
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Swiss mobilization photos
[click to view]

Television documentary on the project
[click to view]

Swiss mobilization video
[click to view]

Video on the power plant project, its impacts and alternative proposals
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Marianna, CDCA (; Jair, independent researcher
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1345
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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