Risks and Challenges of Hazardous Waste Management: Reviews and Case Studies

A Case Study on Grassroots Environmentalism for Health and Sustainability in the Land of Fires (Italy)

Author(s): Salvatore Paolo De Rosa, Lucio Righetti and Annamaria Martuscelli

Pp: 143-156 (14)

DOI: 10.2174/9789811472466120010011

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


This chapter provides a reassessment of the waste ‘crises’ in the so-called Land of Fires in Italy and highlights the contribution of local social mobilizations in advancing environmental justice and sustainability concerns. It is based on the longterm collaboration between a social scientist and two activists, and it draws from a dialogue of academic and activist knowledge in the tradition of Environmental Justice organizations and scholarship. Our contention is that local communities and ecologies of this area have borne the brunt of the socio-environmental costs of waste disposal and industrial production. This translated into risks of contamination for the residents, suffering threats to health and stigmatization. To this state of affairs, local grassroots environmental movements answered by confederating into a regional coalition that arranged on November 16, 2013, one of the biggest environmental justice demonstrations in Italian history, spurring the intervention of the State via legislation and resources. The coalition was also instrumental in the elaboration of the Pact for the Land of Fires, a programmatic commitment to end illegal waste disposal that defined the obligations for the institutional and civil society signatories. Finally, we show how the experience of activists is systematized and coordinated today through the initiative of the Civic Observers, an association of citizens that monitors environmental crimes and conditions in cooperation with public officials.

Keywords: Cancer, Civic observers, Environmental justice, Grassroots environmentalism, Hazardous waste, Organized crime, Waste management.

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