In 2007, another severe urban waste management crisis occurred in Campania. Due to the managerial incapability of the Commissioner to the Emergency (operational since 1994) and of FIBE - Impregilo (the private firm to which the contract for the management was granted), the landfills available in the region were gradually saturated and waste was once again piling up in the streets of Napoli and elsewhere in the region, causing health risks and protests. The government of Prime minister Prodi appointed a new Commissioner and identified new areas to use as landfills, including a disused tuff quarry in the Neapolitan district of Chiaiano, bordering the town of Marano. On May 28th 2008, the newly-installed Berlusconi government held its first Council of Ministers in Naples and it approved a decree (the no. 90 of May 23rd 2008, converted into Law no. 123 of July 14th 2008). The decree confirmed the choice of Chiaiano, identified other ten sites for opening new landfills (declaring them areas of national strategic interest of military competence), introduced tougher penalties for those who opposed to the management plans of the government and attributed to a special attorney the exclusive jurisdiction for the purpose of environmental crimes committed throughout the territory of Campania.
The area to be used as landfill according to the decree, was Cava del Poligono, an abandoned quarry in the Selva di Chiaiano, which falls within the Metropolitan Park of the Hills of Naples. The park, established in 2003 on an area of 2215 hectares, is the largest environmental protected reserve within the city and it is aimed at the enhancement of local historical heritage and peri-urban agriculture revaluation.
Back in 2001, the project of disposing organic waste in the quarry had already collided with a strong protest in Chiaiano; during that protest was born the committee at the core of the subsequent protests. The news of the decision of a new landfill triggered the immediate mobilization of citizens. A permanent garrison at the Rotonda Titanic was created by the local committee and the Community Center Insurgencia, located on the road leading to the quarry, became the headquarter for the self-organization of activists and the symbol of the protest in the months and years to follow.
According to the project of the Commissioner, the reservoir of Chiaiano would accommodate 700,000 tons of waste for a period of three years. The committee of citizens, supported by local administrators, opposed the project on the basis of the high agricultural and landscape value of the area. Both would be jeopardized by the presence of waste, threatening an important aquifer under the quarry, and by the high number of compactors transiting thereby to transport the waste. Moreover, according to the decree, in the landfill even hazardous waste was allowed, including ashes from waste incineration. The activists have defended the reasons of health, clarifying that in a radius of three kilometers from the landfill inhabit over 200,000 people and three hospitals with health centers of regional and national level insist in the area. The entire waste management plan imposed by the Commissioner has been criticized at the base, exposing the ineffectiveness and the profit-oriented rationale of a plan based on landfills and incineration.
In the spring of 2008, blockades and demonstrations were happening every day. In the night between the 23rd and 24th of May, police repression was particularly violent, with many injured among the demonstrators. Negotiations between the government and the committees had reached a dead end after the visit to the landfill of experts of both side. Indeed, the experts of the committees rejected the project of a landfill on the basis of hydro-geological surveys, chemical and engineering feasibility, but the Commissioner decided to proceed anyway. Further demonstrations and protests were curbed by the government with more police force. Some activists were arrested, the resistance was smashed through violent repression, and the landfill was opened, after 14 months of clashes.
The landfill has worked for three years. In 2011, the judiciary closed it for the numerous irregularities detected. In March 2014, the investigation of the Anti-Mafia Department on the landfill ended with 17 arrests, including the managers of the company for the construction and the management of the site. Some members of the Testing Commission were arrested, because they favored companies linked to the Camorra and they carried out the work without respecting the criteria for environmental safety, a risk feared by the citizens’ associations since the announcement of the landfill. Today there are talks about Chiaiano as the site for the opening of a new landfill of 800,000 t in another quarry, Cava Zara. The regional environmental movement, however, grew up in a coalition of social movements, who announced opposition.