Urged by dozens of citizens of Sorrento and the Sorrentine Peninsula, I feel a civil but first of all a moral obligation to intervene publicly on the environmental disaster, which occurred these days in Sorrento and in the Sorrentine Peninsula: polluting the sea, endangering the health of residents (and tourists) and defacing the international image of our beloved land on the national and international media. The environmental disaster of Ferragosto 2015 will not be forgotten!

A true shock and a feeling of shame for those who, like me, go around the country and abroad to praise and propagate the natural beauty of Sorrento and the Sorrentine Peninsula through the masterpiece of Lucio Dalla, “Caruso”!

It is an economic loss of limitless proportions, which sends in smoke hundreds of thousands of Euro invested (sometimes badly!) in events (sometimes useless, not for hard-working people, also in electoral terms!) and in communication (sometimes ineffective), which should mobilise hoteliers, restaurateurs, retailers, trade unions, and cultural and environmental associations against the clumsy attempts to minimize the huge problem, against the pitiful apology addressed to the tourists in order to cover the past and present responsibility, and finally, against the triumphalist and more and more frequent declarations on tourism, which are bordering on ridiculous and provocative, passively seconded by irresponsible and often colluding information.

Sanitation is a prerequisite of tourism development, not a discretionary variable! What should be avoided in the long run, is that Sorrento and the Sorrento Peninsula, boasting a heritage of hospitality and economic development, are not forced to be subject (God forbid!) to a trend of a negative reversal, which would seriously immerse all economic-social order in crisis, precisely because of environmental degradation.

The Mayors have full authority to act and do so together, without further delay and without political distinction or performances of a “primadonna”, to be:

1) asking for an immediate sitting of the authorities of Campania Region (the new President and a competent assessor), with their personal participation, along with Gori, WWF and those of interest, to identify the necessary funding to carry out the essential works in the sewers to avoid the phenomenon of "overflowing", by also diverting investments previously destined for other works, which are not an absolute emergency, like the current situation. Less unnecessary events and more infrastructure! To carry out the works this winter with the utmost urgency, under the supervision of the the national anti corruption authority;

2) finding in municipal budgets the resources available to address this health and economic crisis in terms of inspections and controls;

3) issuing, as soon as possible, in the quality of health authority, an order-injunction requiring all owners of buildings destined for civil or for productive activities in the municipal area, to confirm to the Mayor within a maximum of one month on the presence of a cesspit, with the details of its location, subject to heavy fines of not less than five thousand Euro for breaches, and the subsequent report to the Judicial Authority;

4) organizing municipal teams with the delegated powers of the Mayor, for detailed inspections in the area, starting from well identified and identifiable locations, in order to trace the existing illegal dumping; liaising with the owners of the cesspits, and ensuring immediately the use of those and, if found to be empty, heavily penalize those “criminals” financially and report them to the Juridical Authority for environmental disaster and economic damage to the community, to be requested compensation in the way of judicial proceedings;

5) constructing and updating a municipal and inter-municipal grid, to be published on the website of the Municipality/Municipalities, with all the facilities built for civil and productive activities, with particular reference to those at risk, with the identification of cesspits subject to periodical inspections and, certainly, after storm or flooding events. Among all the buildings, the lists of water, electricity and gas lines, as well as housing and health permits, allow to quickly identify those destined for private accommodation and those intended for productive activities, which are at risk. Establishing an ad hoc working team with the participation of volunteers.

In the seventies and eighties in Sorrento, the community administrator (councillor for finances!), with the help of young people hired under the law 285/1977 on youth employment, many of whom are now leaders and municipal employees, was able to define the first inventory of state-owned properties in the town, which had been until that moment non-existent, making discoveries which were startling and ... scandalous!

Hoping that good weather in a few days brings back again the conspiratorial silence on this intolerable and very serious health and economic emergency in Sorrento and in the Sorrentine Peninsula would only represent a proof of administrative blindness and contempt for the administered citizens, detrimental to the future!

Another dramatic Ferragosto in 2016, like the one of 2015, would not only authorize the judicial authorities to take measures, but the citizens and business operators to organize a popular uprising against the public officials!

Raffaele Lauro

Press release

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