Piazza Vittorio view. Turin, February 2013.

If only it were fog. One of the Po Valley’s best known winter-time features, there’s good reason to suspect as much. However, for anyone who has lived in the region for a year or more will tell you, the two are easily distinguishable. Thick, with only a few feet of visibility, the fog can make driving, especially at night, particularly hazardous. The haze, on the other hand, is more porous. You can still see through it, and at certain times a day, it’s even pretty. Much like the way air pollutants liven sunsets, increasing the number of colors discernible in the pre-night sky.

Amongst Europe’s cities, few, unfortunately, have worse air quality than Milan and Turin. Though technically ninety minutes distance from one another, they both suffer from comparably high levels of air pollution, the former, primarily stemming from automobiles, the latter, from heavy industry, as well as traffic. Unsurprisingly, environmental activism in northern Italy is quite common, and intense. The photograph above, of Turin’s Piazza Vittorio from a covered walkway on Via Po, is a good example. Just look at the air towards the end of the square.

The flyer translation that follows (see the image below,) protesting a new garbage incinerator, is a classic example of the kinds of environmental protests that take place in the area. Not just concerned with local air quality, its reach is naturally broad. It’s as much about public spending, and its benefactors, as it is about air pollution.

 

Environmentalist flyer. Turin, May 2013

Environmentalist flyer. Turin, May 2013.

 

TURIN INCINERATOR

3 DAYS (OF) STRUGGLE AGAINST (THE) GERBIDO MONSTER

 

April 2013

Demonstration at the incinerator on the occasion of its official opening ceremony

Via Gorini at 2 pm – for details see www.rifiutizerotorino.it

01st of May 2013 We will tell about our struggle to workers – Demonstration in Turin, Piazza Castello, at 9 am

11th of May 2013 – Let’s turn the page! Demonstration in Beinasco – Turin at 2.30 pm Via Dolci – Beinasco – for details see www.rifiutizerotorino.it and facebook groups

 

WHAT DOES “TO DIE BY LEGAL RULES” MEAN?

THEY LIED TO US!

During his campaign, (Turin Mayor) Fassino had promised that the incinerator would have been “public.” INSTEAD, since December 2012, 75% of incinerator shares have been sold to a private investment fund (F2i) that is not going to do any charity activity, but (generates) profits for the (project’s) associates!

 

CAN WE STILL TRUST THEM? When they say…

- That “they will improve separate waste collection and that they will not accept waste from other provinces!” WHERE ARE THEY TAKING THE WASTE FOR INCINERATION, THEN?  – “they will spend not much more than now!” BUT THEY HAVE ALREADY DETERMINED THAT PRICES WILL RISE FROM 75€/T (FOR  DUMPING) TO 112€/T (FOR INCINERATION)! (In Parma they ask for 167€/T.) The slag and ashes disposal made by Servizi Industriali from Orbassano will not worsen the already compromised Turin situation!” BUT ISN’T IT THE  SAME COMPANY THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN PEREMPTORILY MOVED AWAY IN ORDER TO “COMPENSATE”FOR THE INCINERATOR POLLUTION?

 

WHAT WILL IT BURN?

RAW MATERIAL (plastic, paper, organic substances, wood, metal..) that, if recycled, would be paid for. Would safeguard the environment and diminish waste taxes.

 

WHAT WILL IT CONSUME?

PRECIOUS RESOURCES: in 1 year, 1 billion cm of POTABLE WATER (EQUAL TO THE CONSUMPTION OF 5 THOUSAND FAMILIES,) 1 billion cm of methane gas (THE CONSUMPTION OF MORE THAN 10 THOUSAND FAMILIES.)

 

WHAT WILL IT PRODUCE?

The furnace should produce HEAT for 17 thousand families BUT IT WILL POLLUTE EQUIVALENT TO 150 THOUSAND regular boilers.

- It will produce 269 T/day of residues and 45 T/day of dangerous ashes that will be directed TO SERVIZI INDUSTRIALI, TO A COMPANY IN LOMBARDIA AND TO SPECIAL DUMPS.

 

WHAT WILL IT EMIT?

IT IS AUTHORIZED by Turin province to emit in the atmosphere (*data from AIA – Integrated Environmental Authorization) about 680 kg/day* of: FINE PARTICLES, NITROUS OXIDE, SULPHUR DIOXIDE AND AMMONIA.

THE LAW IS NOT EQUAL FOR EVERYONE: if your car emits PM10 per km (Euro2 limit) in Turin (it) CANNOT (enter the city.)

THERE IS NO SUCH PROBLEM FOR THE INCINERATOR!

- MICROPOLLUTANTS, high polluting substances, even in small quantities (less than 1 billionth of a gram,) amongst which: HEAVY METALS (about 2,5 kg/day), MERCURY (0,5 kg/day), IPA (aromatic polycyclic hydrocarbons) 0,5 kg/day.

AND DIOXIN?

An emission of 0,46 mg/day* has been permitted.

We remind you that for children the safe quantity of dioxin to which they can be exposed is: ZERO

The REGULATION LIMITS are often fixed on the basis of the capacity of the filter to BLOCK a pollutant, and not of its EFFECTIVE DANGEROUSNESS! The dioxin limit was fixed at the beginning of the nineties to 1ng/cm, because, if lower, it would have required excessive expenses for the standardization of existing plants.

Pollutants such as the deadly PCB, DEFINITELY CARCINOGENIC, are NOT EVEN monitored (because they are internationally forbidden) but could be present in products imported from outside EU (China, India, etc.), or could be still present in objects and, once incinerated, discharged in the environment.

 

EMISSION LIMITS: What does it mean “TO DIE BY LEGAL RULES”?

THE EMISSION OF ALL THESE CARCINOGENIC SUBSTANCES EXCEEDS MANY TIMES THE LIMITS FIXED BY WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION. Their deposit has been estimated in the Turin area, but it will actually affect a much smaller area (40-50 km2); this means that their effect on people and cultivations will be higher. The plant has the LEGAL POSSIBILITY to EXCEED THE LIMITS for all the duration of test and for 180 HOURS per year without incurring in any problem. (!)

BUT there are no limits that can safeguard our health where the pollutants accumulate in the environment for tens of years (the average life of an incinerator = 20 years.) Turin is already one of the most polluted cities in the world. If we don’t express OUR DISAPPROVAL, the incinerator will worsen the situation.

ONLY YOU CAN CHANGE REALITY!

1. ADOPT good habits to REDUCE WASTE

2. SENSITIZE and REQUIRE efficiency in the collection of  separate waste in Turin and its province.

3. REQUIRE cold treatment plants for unsorted waste. MATERIAL FACTORIES (mechanical biological treatment) and advanced screen and selection plants are efficient and working realities in Italy and abroad.

4. COOPERATE in the fundraising of “5 € TO DEFEND OURSELVES FROM INCINERATOR” and with the PETITION for the NATIONAL POPULAR INITIATIVE LAW “Zero Waste” for a proper waste handling.

 

Translated from the Italian by Giulia Pace. Introduction and photographs courtesy of Joel Schalit.