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Palermo, Sicily – the Smouldering Rubbish Crisis

Remember Naples’ trash crisis, with its rotting piles of rubbish threatening the health of this major Italian city’s inhabitants?  Now it appears to be Palermo down in Sicily which is becoming submerged in piles of stinking refuse.

The Gulf of Palermo, Sicily, by night
The Gulf of Palermo, Sicily, by night

This latest Italian rubbish crisis does not yet appear to have reached the scale of that in Naples.

Such was the level of the trash trouble in Naples that the situation grabbed the attention of the press throughout the world.  The affair also blackened Italy’s image somewhat, and had Italy’s prime minister scurrying down to trash infested Naples to sort the mess out.

Recently, items of news on a mounting trash problem in Palermo have also been reaching the Italian press, but stories have been overshadowed by Italy’s recent bout of showgirl politics.

Just what is happening in Palermo?  A good question, and here are some recent YouTube videos which might give you an idea.

Mini-Update: As at 9th December 2010, the Palermo Garbage crisis has not been resolved and appears to be worsening. Media attention is focused on Italy’s other infamous trash troubles in Naples, but the trash problem in Sicily is causing problems as is shown here: Why I have not written in a while End of mini update.

Palermo invasa dai rifiuti – Palermo Invaded by Refuse

This alternative tour of scenic Palermo was placed on YouTube a couple of weeks ago.  Things were not looking too good back then.


Palermo arte, storia ed emergenza munnizza (rifiuti) maggio 2009 – Palermo, art, history and refuse emergency – May 2009

This video shows the Palermo trash situation back at the end of May.  Not pretty, and the mini-presentation at the start states that Palermo’s fire department have been kept very busy extinguishing piles of burning rubbish.


Bagheria sommersa dai rifiuti – Bagheria, a Suburb of Palermo, submerged under refuse

This video is very recent.  It’s from around the 19 June, 2009 and is a report on mounting piles of rubbish in Bagheria, a suburb of Palermo, which is Sicily’s capital city.  You don’t need to understand Italian to be able to comprehend how the Bagheria area residents feel.



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Amia, the firm responsible for trash collection in Palermo city cannot afford to pay its employees.  According to Leoluca Orlando, a former mayor of Palermo, and now an Italian Values party politician, the refuse collection company Amia has literally been brought to the brink of bankruptcy by fiddles and corruption.  Such has been the abuse of Amia‘s finances, that the company’s coffers appear to have been virtually sucked dry.

Another organisation, Coinres, which is supposedly responsible for refuse collection in the area surrounding Palermo, is also having problems with employees who are not overly happy about not being paid.  Like their Palermo city centre counterparts, these disgruntled employees are not out collecting rubbish.  Coinres is possibly another case of the covert ‘diversion’ of company funds.

It is appalling how the refuse situation in Palermo has been allowed to sink to this level, but it also illustrates just how big a problem Sicily has with corruption.


Who knows.  Berlusconi is far too tied up with his burning showgirl issues to be able to worry too much about burning trash in Palermo at present.  It is likely that the situation will become well out of hand before Italy’s prime minister decides to wade in.  Although the army has already been sent in to tidy up, as the Palermo situation begins to bear a startling resemblance to that of Naples.

Catastrophe for Tourism

This latest Italian rubbish crisis in Palermo could have a catastrophic effect on tourism this summer.  High season is just about to kick off, what with July being just around the corner.  Oh, and we are in the middle of an economic crisis too, which means that Sicily probably can ill afford to lose any form of income, let alone that from tourism.

That’s not to mention this embarrassing situation further blackening Italy’s already rather tarnished worldwide imageSilvio Berlusconi’s Misunderstood Image Problem

Italy stumbles towards yet another scandal.



Palermo circondata dai rifiuti – Palermo surrounded by refuse – in Italian, La Repubblica, Palermo.it, 18 June 2009

Spazzatura a Palermo – Trash in Palermo – in Italian, Inviato speciale.it, 01 June 2009

Italy: Army sent to Palermo to fight rubbish crisis – in English – adnkronos International

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