LONDON: A huge dump of illegal rubbish has been trucked from the Italian port city of Salerno to Persano, a rural village next to a nature sanctuary, after it was returned by Tunisian authorities following a two-year feud over who should deal with it.
It was sent to Tunisia two years ago after the Italian side said they were shipping recyclable waste.
But the Tunisians discovered that the rubbish was not filled with plastics but decaying household items and medical waste, which is barred from import under Tunisian law.
It is now expected to be stored in Persano for the next six months, an area that boasts a World Wildlife Fund-protected sanctuary.
Before its return to Italy, the Tunisian side kept the rubbish in the port city of Sousse, where local environmentalists decried the build-up of another country’s mess.
While stuck in Sousse, 70 containers caught fire, and Environment Minister Mustapha Aroui was sacked and arrested for his involvement in the import of the illegal waste.
The rank and file of Tunisian customs authorities were also investigated for corruption, with 26 people facing police scrutiny.
Franco Mennella, mayor of the Italian town of Serre, has urged citizens to protest the waste dump in their municipality.
“In addition to pursuing all legal and administrative avenues, we will carry out every form of peaceful protest on the ground to prevent the arrival of containers loaded with waste,” Mennella wrote on Facebook.
“I appeal to citizens … to participate in this important and vital battle for the protection and safeguarding of the environment and of public health.”
Italy came under fire in early 2020 for reports of dumping waste in Bulgaria, where police discovered some 9,000 tons of metal, plastic and paper dumped in a northern city for recycling, but where no recycling plant was available to process the waste.
The exchange of waste from richer to poorer countries for processing is a common trend, but many nations on the receiving end are exploited and given rubbish they did not agree to.
Sri Lanka has been returning hundreds of containers filled with illegally imported waste to Britain, a process that it concluded this week.
The rubbish was listed as containing “used mattresses, carpets and rugs,” but Sri Lankan authorities discovered bio waste from hospitals, including body parts.