Vado Ligure is a small town (pop. 8,500) in Liguria, a Northwestern region in Italy, in the middle of a seacoast ravaged by industrial development and post-industrial impoverishment. In the Sixties a coal power plant was built to provide the regional factories with energy and it is still operational, with dire consequences on the local population’s health.
Out of every 100,000 deaths in Italy, 57 are due to lung cancer. This figure grows to 112 in Vado Ligure and to 97 in the neighboring city of Savona (pop. 60,000), which according to the critics is the result of a carbon pollution caused by the plant.
Currently the plant includes two 320-MegaWatt coal reactors and two 400-MegaWatt natural-gas reactors. In 2006 the national energy provider Enel (turned into a stock company since 1992) decided to double the plant’s size. A new 460-MegaWatt coal reactor is supposed to be built in six years in order to replace the old ones. Another reactor should be added in the future.
A group of left-wing parties, environmentalist associations and citizens’ associations started to protest against the carbon plant from the beginning of the process. They claimed the right to a healthy environment and emphasized the dangers coming from such big and polluting structures. The territory, they say, has already paid a high price to that plant.
Uniti per la salute (United for Health, a local association for public health protection), Rifondazione Comunista (the Communist Refoundation Party), PCL (the Communist Workers’ Party), Movimento Cinque Stelle (the Five-Star Movement), Legambiente (an Italian environmental association), WWF and the majority of the population rejected Enel’s project, and started a political and legal opposition to it.
Basing their claims on medical and environmental researches, the local activists have been able to stop the plant’s expansion. The legal and political struggle is still in progress and there isn’t any public authority who has tried to solve it yet.
The Vado Ligure struggle activists subsequently joined the broader movement against coal-powered stations which already involved the communities surrounding the areas of Brindisi, Civitavecchia and Marghera.