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Green chemistry project in Porto Torres, Italy

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In May 2011 the Italian government, the public institutions of Sardinia, the trade unions, Novamont and Eni (with its subsidiaries Versalis, Syndial and Enipower) signed a "Memorandum of understanding-MoU for "Green Chemistry in Porto Torres", which was the starting point for a major project for the conversion of the Porto Torres petrochemical complex to a third generation bio-refinery. This was the origin of Matrìca, a 50/50 joint venture between Versalis (Eni) and Novamont, responsible for the implementation and management of the new project.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Green chemistry project in Porto Torres, Italy
State or province:Autonomous Sardinian Region
Location of conflict:Municipality of Porto Torres
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Chemical industries
Agro-fuels and biomass energy plants
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Biological resources
Chemical products
Natural Gas
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The process of conversion of the Porto Torres site, started in 2012 and will affect a total area of around 27 hectares.

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Project area:27 ha [chemical complex area]; 100,000 ha [biomass plantations]
Level of Investment for the conflictive project1,581,360,000.00 USD
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:141,793 [Sassari and Porto Torres inhabitants]
Start of the conflict:09/2011
Company names or state enterprises:Matrica spa from Italy
Novamont from Italy
Eni group (ENI) from Italy
Enipower from Italy
Relevant government actors:Italian government, Ministry of the Environment and Land Defence, Minister for Economic Development, Sardinia Region, Municipality of Porto Torres and Sassari , SAVI (regional office for the environmental impacts assessment), Regional Department of Industry.
International and Finance InstitutionsEuropean Investment Bank (EIB)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Comitato No Chimica Verde/ No Inceneritore; Comitato Nurra Dentro-Riprendiamoci l’Agro ; Coordinamento Sardo Non Bruciamoci il Futuro,
I.S.D.E.(International Society Doctor for Enviroment); Ordine dei Medici Sassari ; WWf Sardegna ; G.R.I.G. (Gruppo di Intervento Giuridico); Italia Nostra Sardegna ; Associazione Medici Cattolici Italiani; Collettivo Aznamusnart ; Collettivo Alim(e)ntazione ; C.S.O.A. Pangea
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local ejos
Social movements
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Other Environmental impacts
Other Environmental impactsThe “green chemistry” plant will emit in the air SO2, NOX, CO, TOC, NH3, O2, H2O and dust [3]
Different EIAs on the "Green Chemistry" project were presented. Local committees, alarmed by the high level of contamination of the area, highlight the lack of an environmental evaluation cumulating all impacts of different projects (bio refinery, power plant, etc.). [5]
The interested area include Sites of Community Interest (SCI) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs). Here there is an obligation to maintain habitats and species in a favorable conservation status and to evaluate the negatives effects of new plans and projects. (Presidential Decree no. 357 8 September 1997, Article 5 and Annex G.7; Europeans directives"Birds" - 2011/147 / EC- and "Habitat" - 92/43 / EC-) [5]
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession
Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
In 2013, following the official observation to the EIA process sent by ISDE [4], Enipower presented an integration to the EIA for the biomass power plant. The new installation is waiting the final authorization by the Regional Department of Industry.
Proposal and development of alternatives:Local committees expressed their strong opposition to the “Green Chemistry” project. Primarily, the reclamation of the entire area polluted by the industrial activities carried out in the last 50 years is considered fundamental for the region. The process should include the constitution of a monitoring public entity/research center. They argue that after the cleaning up it will be possible to develop new projects, involving local population, respecting environmental sustainability and in accordance with regional and local needs.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The conflict is not finished and protests continue. The first of the seven plants of green chemistry was opened in June 2014 and the authorization process for the biomass power plant is going ahead. Local mobilization has involved many people and strengthen edparticipation of citizens previously disinterested of the impacts on health and environment caused by the activities of the petrochemical complex.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

[1]Legislative Decree 6th of July 2012 - national regulation biomass power plants
[click to view]

[2]Legislative Decree n.179 31st of July 2002 - Recognition of the industrial area of Porto Torres as Site of National Interest (SIN)
[click to view]

Regional resolution January 2014
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[3]Observations EIA “Progetto Polo Verde – Fase I. Impianti per la produzione di monomeri ed oli lubrificanti, biodegradabili, da oli vegetali naturali”Matrica Spa, ISDE_9-2011

[4]Observations EIA “ Centrale a biomassa di Porto Torres”Enipower, ISDE_9-2012

[5]Observations to the EIA integration“Centrale a biomassa di Porto Torres” Enipower, ISDE_7-2013

[6]SENTIERI report. Epidemiological study of national territories exposed to pollution risks, ISS, 2014
[click to view]

[7]SENTIERI report. Epidemiological study of national territories exposed to pollution risks, ISS, 2011
[click to view]

Manifesto newspaper article on the thistle plantations
[click to view]

SardiniaPost, Article on protests carried out by local committees
[click to view]

Region website, documentes on the project
[click to view]

Article on green chemistry in Porto Torres
[click to view]

Il Fatto Quotidiano article, Porto Torres project
[click to view]

Il Manifesto Sardo, articles on the green chemistry project
[click to view]

Sardinian mobilizations website
[click to view]

No chimica verde facebook page
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Conference on the project
[click to view]

Local committees protests against the project
[click to view]

Conference on the project, Comitato no Chimica Verde
[click to view]

Other comments:The industrial area of Porto Torres was recognized as Site of National Interest (SIN) with the law n.179 31/7/2002 [2]. SIN were defined by Legislative Decree 22/97 (Ronchi Decree) and the Ministerial Decree 471/99 and incorporated by Decree 152/2006.
The health impacts on the population caused by the pollution have been proved in the SENTIERI studies promoted by the National Health Institute (Istituto Superiore Sanità, ISS) [6,7].
The pollution of the area emerged from analysis carried out by Syndial in 2011 on groundwater contamination.The company, owned by Eni, is responsible for the reclamation process.
Meta information
Contributor:Committee No Chimica Verde/ No Inceneritore ([email protected] ) - CDCA (
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1518
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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