Safety measures at the Ecolibarna plant in Serravalle Scrivia
Safety measures at the site of the former “Gastaldi Oli Lubrificanti” later transformed into “Ecolibarna” are still in progress today. This is an area contaminated by acidic substances in Serravalle Scrivia in the province of Alessandria.
Between 1940 and 1985, the industrial complex Gastaldi Oli Lubrificanti S.p.a treated mineral oils, fuels and lubricants with a process that uses “acid muds or slush”.
In 1983, the company Ecolibarna S.r.l received authorisation, which was later revoked, to collect and dispose of special and toxic-harmful waste in both liquid as well as solid form. All kinds of waste passed through the area during that time, and waste of a different nature was subsequently found buried in the ground next to the plant. In 1985, Ecolibarna ceased to operate due to “suspected contamination”.
In June 2003, a state of emergency was declared in the area (Prime Ministerial Decree of 19 June 2003). In the same year, a Decree of the Ministry for the Environment declared an area of approximately 70,000 m2 as a site of national concern, which included the disused industrial plant of the former Ecolibarna and Gastaldi Oli Lubrificanti, covering areas as far as the banks of the river Scrivia.
In 2007, Francesco Paolo Castaldo, prefect of Alessandria, was appointed as Emergency Commissioner, supported by Vito Cusumano, who coordinated the activities of the technical committee.
The objective of the current Emergency Commissioner is to guarantee that no further contamination of the area occurs, by closing off the area and building a wall under the plant to prevent the contamination of the underlying groundwater aquifers in the event of rain.
The work executed regarded the safety containment of the area of the former plant, of the districts of Fabbricone and Gambarato and the groundwater, as well as the realisation of the Project for the Characterisation plan by the Piedmont branch of ARPA. Two disposal sites were identified, the first known as southeast and the second as acid mud, being the substance it was used to store. This area is monitored on a regular basis, as is the safety system of the aquifer.
The safety operations are carried out by:
• The Serravalle Scrivia council, responsible for the sealing of wells in the area outside the former plant;
• The Department of Territorial Engineering, of the Environment and Geotechnology of Turin polytechnic University, which worked on the integration of the characterisation activities;
• The Società pubblica per il recupero ed il trattamento dei rifiuti S.p.a. for the perimeter enclosures of the site and the preparation of the two disposal areas;
• The Rete Ferroviaria italiana S.p.a. for the geotechnical monitoring of the Turin-Genoa railway.
With the decree of 28 June 2010, the Council of Ministers extended the state of emergency in the area of Serravalle Scrivia until 31 July 2010, for the implementation of safety measures at the Ecolibarna plant.