Urban waste incinerator of Acerra, Italy

A lead struggle in Italy against waste management model which destroys life, environment, democracy


The project and the construction of the waste incinerator with energy recovery of Acerra is to be framed within the “state of emergency” for the management of urban trash declared by the Central Government in the Campania Region from 1994 to 2009. The “emergency” allowed for the application of special laws and the derogation of ordinary ones.

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Basic Data
NameUrban waste incinerator of Acerra, Italy
ProvinceProvince of Naples, Campania Region
SiteLocality of Pantano in Acerra
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Waste Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Waste privatisation conflicts / waste-picker access to waste
Urban development conflicts
Specific CommoditiesDomestic municipal waste
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsIn 1999 FIBE won the tender for the management of urban waste in Campania. In 2000 the construction site of the incinerator was opened with the consent of VAS (Valutazione Ambientale Strategica: strategic environmental evaluation) but not that of VIA. The construction site was interrupted almost immediately because of failure in the design phase and the consequent changes asked by the Ministry of Environment.

In 2007 the Public Prosecutor of Naples has indicted several people involved in the waste management during the investigation on the waste crisis in Naples. They were charged with aggravated and continued fraud against the State and abuse of authority. Among these, is Antonio Bassolino, who was Special Commissioner and President of the Campania Region, and the CEOs of Impregilo, Fibe and Fisia Italimpianti societies. These companies have been accused of building unsuitable incinerators and of producing poor quality RDF. This was possible thanks to the help of the Commissioner to the Emergency, who has omitted the required checks. Nevertheless, in 2013 the defendants were all acquitted.

Since the completion of the facilities, the Italian Government has entrusted the incinerator management to the A2A society. In 2012, the Campania Region bought the incinerator from the Impregilo society thanks to 355 million of euro from the EU funds.

The waste incinerator of Acerra burns 600.000 tons of waste per year and can receive RDF that does not comply with environmental standards. This incinerator has 3 oil-starting-system ovens that are able to dispose up to 27 tons per hour. Moreover, there are three steam generators that activate a turbine able to produce 107 MWe, sufficient for the energetic needs of 200,000 households per year. The A2A society gets 49.9% of the proceeds by selling the produced electricity to the National Dispenser of energy services. In addition, it earns from waste taxes paid by Municipalities. Between 2009 and 2013, the A2A society has earned € 250 million from the management of the plant [3].
Project Area (in hectares)16 ha
Level of Investment (in USD)400,000,000.00 USD
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population60,000 citizens of Acerra
Start Date01/01/2000
Company Names or State EnterprisesFibe s.p.a. (FIBE) from Italy
Edilcar from Italy - Subcontract builder
A2A s.p.a. from Italy - Manager of the incinerator
Salini Impregilo from Italy
Relevant government actors- Commissioner for the waste emergency.

- Ministry of the Environment.

- President of the Campania Region.

- Prefect of Naples.

- Civil Protection.

- Judiciary.

- European Union.

- Mayor of Acerra.
International and Financial InstitutionsAssociazione Bancaria Italiana (Abi) from Italy
Capitalia spa from Italy
Banca Intesa from Italy
San Paolo Imi from Italy
Gruppo Unicredito Italiano from Italy
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersLocal organizations:

- Comitato contro il Megainceneritore di Acerra.

- Donne 29 Agosto.

- Aprile Laboratorio Politico.

- MDA - Movimento Disoccupati di Acerra.

Regional organizations:

- Coordinamento Regionale Rifiuti ((http://www.rifiuticampania.org/)

- Assise di Palazzo Marigliano (http://www.napoliassise.it/)

National organizations:

- Associazione Medici per L’Ambiente – ISDE Italia (http://www.isde.it/)

- Zero Waste Italy (http://zerowasteitaly.blogspot.it/)

International organizations:

- Zero Waste Europe (http://www.zerowasteeurope.eu/)

- Global Alliance Against Incinerators – GAIA ((http://www.no-burn.org/index.php)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Forms of MobilizationArtistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Hunger strikes and self immolation
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Mine tailing spills, Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Genetic contamination, Global warming, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Other- Exhaust gas emission for waste transport. V

- Increase in waste P
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Potential: Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession
Otherdamage to agriculture
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Criminalization of activists
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Violent targeting of activists
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Development of AlternativesIn 2001 the "Movement against the Mega-incinerator of Acerra" has proposed to the Commissioner an alternative plan for waste management in Campania. This plan was based upon reducing, reusing and recycling waste materials. The Movement was not only against the incinerator but also against the entire waste management plan as designed by the Commissioner, which assumed a private management geared to the maximization of profits for the private investors. In 2004, supported by the "Zero Waste Italian Network", it has been proposed a plan for a more complex recycling, based on curbside collection and on incentives derived from waste taxes deduction. In 2005, the "Acerra Movement", in the absence of waste recycling managed by the responsible institutions, has set up an auto-organized recycling, by entering into agreement with local administration, centers of materials recycling and citizens.

Some of the proposals that were elaborated within the Acerra’s struggles have become a common legacy for the movements emerged in Campania during the years of “emergency”, and have been taken as a model by several institutional leaders, such as the Major of Naples.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.At the end, the incinerator was built but the Government suppressed demonstrations with the use of police force. Other committees, which were subsequently launched in Campania, took the struggle against the incinerator construction as a model. Besides that, some institutional leaders have been positively influenced by their proposals.
Sources and Materials

- Decreto legge n. 61 dell'11 maggio 2007, convertito in legge n. 87 del 5 luglio 2007
[click to view]

- Decreto legge n. 90 del 23 maggio 2008, convertito in legge n. 123 del 14 luglio 2008
[click to view]

- Decreto-legge n. 172 del 6 novembre 2008
[click to view]

- Decreto n. 195 del 17 dicembre 2009
[click to view]

- Ordinanza del Presidente del Consiglio dei ministri dell'11 febbraio 1994, n. 35.
[click to view]


Gabriella Gribaudi, Il ciclo vizioso dei rifiuti campani, “Il Mulino”, 2008

Paolo Rabitti, ECOBALLE Tutte le verità su discariche, inceneritori, smaltimento abusivo dei rifiuti, Aliberti editore, 2008, pp. 37 – 43.

Alessandro Iacuelli, Le vie infinite dei rifiuti, 2008, pp. 125 e segg.
[click to view]

Termovalorizzatore di Acerra, Corriere del mezzogiorno.
[click to view]

Alberto Grosso, Vito Marinella, Rifiuti. Produzione e gestione in Campania, Agenzia regionale per il recupero dell'ambiente, Napoli, 2008.

Tommaso Sodano, Nello Trocchia, La Peste. La mia battaglia contro i rifiuti della politica italiana, Rizzoli, 2010

Senior K. and Mazza A. Italian “Triangle of Death” linked to waste crisis. The Lancet Oncology 5, 525–527, 2004.

Giacomo D’Alisa et al. Conflict in Campania: waste emergency or crisis of democracy. Ecological Economics 70, pp. 239–249, 2010.

ARPAC Campania, Siti contaminati in Campania, 2008.

Una Montagna di Balle, regia di Nicola Angrisano, prodotto da Insu tv, 77’, 2009.
[click to view]

D’Alisa et al.(2010) Conflict in Campania: Waste emergency or crisis of democracy, Ecological Economics, 70, 2

Relazione del sopralluogo effettuato presso l'impianto di termovalorizzazione di Acerra, sito nella zona industriale in località Pantano (PDF), Provincia di Napoli, 28 luglio 2010:
[click to view]

Bollettino dell’Assise della città di Napoli e del Mezzogiorno d’Italia, gennaio – febbraio 2008. (PDF):
[click to view]

Assise della città di Napoli e del Mezzogiorno d'Italia, Osservazioni al Piano Regionale Rifiuti Urbani della Regione Campania, 2007. (PDF).:
[click to view]

SOGIN-CESI, su incarico del Commissario di Governo, “Caratterizzazione e analisi degli inquinanti di suoli nel comprensorio di Acerra”, 2003. (PDF):
[click to view]


Coordinamento Regionale Rifiuti – CO.RE.RI.
[click to view]

Assise della città di Napoli e del Mezzogiorno d’Italia.
[click to view]

Laboratorio Campano, Inceneritore di Acerra
[click to view]

L’inceneritore e le ceneri di Acerra, Napoli Monitor (storia orale del conflitto)
[click to view]

Media Links

Acerra contro l’inceneritore 29 agosto 2004
[click to view]

L’inceneritore di Acerra tra malfunzionamenti, inchieste giudiziarie e contestazioni
[click to view]

Manifestazione ad Acerra del 15 marzo 2008
[click to view]

Protesta contro l’inceneritore del 25 gennaio 2014
[click to view]

Other Documents

[click to view]

Proteste Acerra
[click to view]

Scontri Acerra
[click to view]

Corteo Acerra
[click to view]

[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorSalvatore Paolo De Rosa - [email protected] (ENTITLE)
Last update28/02/2015