Friday, July 08, 2016

Moroccans Up in Arms Over Italian Garbage

Moroccan civil society has mobilised against the arrival of 2.500 tonnes of toxic waste from Italy
In an on-line petition activists are asking the environment ministry to cancel authorisation for the incineration of Italian industrial waste in treatment plants in Morocco. The petition calls for intervention from the Royal Cabinet to prevent the country from "becoming the collection centre for international waste".

The Italian waste dump  'Taverna del Re'

On the eve of the COP22 climate conference in Marrakech in November and a few days after the ban on plastic shopping bags came into force the environmental consciousness of Moroccans is on alert. « Le Maroc n’est pas une poubelle! » - "Morocco is not a rubbish bin" quickly became a favourite quote on social media.

Back on June 30th, The View From Fez and Morocco's Arabic language newspapers carried news of the arrival from Italy of 2,500 tonnes of plastic and pneumatic waste, with the acronym RDF (refuse derived fuel), creating panic among environmentalists. The garbage is reportedly due to arrive from the southern Campania region, from a fuel depot called 'Taverna del Re' that is headquartered between the provinces of Caserta and Naples. A total of 5 million tonnes of waste will be delivered to the northern agricultural region of El Jadida under a three-year agreement, media sources report.

A statement to the public, issued by the environment centre in El Jadida, condemned the shipment of waste "that is proven to be dangerous and toxic, causing human and environmental damage and lead to the emergence of many acute and chronic illnesses, as well as birth defects and lifelong disabilities." &nbsHowever, the environment ministry insists that everything is in order and that the waste is "not dangerous, is used as an alternative to fossil fuel and comes from international processing centres".

It says the refuse "does not contaminate the environment" and, on the contrary, represents "a first step towards collaboration with other European (waste) processing centres, a sort of preliminary trial for the development of a local RDF production supply chain". The importation will be fully legal and carried out under the close supervision of the source and destination countries.

Moroccans are not sleeping easily, however, and the petition launched at the weekend collected 11,000 signatures in just a few hours. In addition, Ouadi Benabdellah, an MP for RNI (Rassemblement National des Indépendent) on the centre right has presented an interrogation directed at environment minister Hakina El Haité.  Hopefully this attempt by Moroccan liberals to take the matter to parliament will result in a ban of the shipments.

The newspaper Le Monde and the Italian Health Institute confirms the high toxicity of waste imported from Italy. Contrary to what the Moroccan officials which indicate that the Italian waste is safe. The Italian Parliament has just received a report from the Institute of Hygiene confirming the danger of such waste on humans and on the environment. The same report indicates that the burning or burial of such wastes cause chronic diseases especially in infants and children. The report points out that such waste can cause cancer and burial causes the poisoning of groundwater.


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