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Enel coal power plant project in Porto Tolle, Italy

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The Enel thermoelectric power plant of Porto Tolle is located on the Polesine Camerini Island at the Pila mouth of the Po (one of the Po River´s main mouths), in the middle of the Po Delta Regional Park (established in 1997) and at the border with a Special Protection Area and a Site of Community Importance [1].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Enel coal power plant project in Porto Tolle, Italy
State or province:Province of Rovigo, Veneto region
Location of conflict:Polesine Camerini, Municipality of Porto Tolle
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Other
Thermal power plants
Specific commodities:Coal
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The coal-fired project would reduce the current capacity of 2,640 MW to 1,980 MW (three groups of 660 MW). In addition, 5% of the energy would be produced using biomass. Works for the conversion of the plant would last 5 years.

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Project area:168
Level of Investment for the conflictive project3,350,250,000 USD (2,500,000,000 EU)
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:73,000 (inhabitants of the Veneto Po Delta Regional Park)
Start of the conflict:2005
End of the conflict:2014
Company names or state enterprises:ENEL Group (Enel) from Italy
Relevant government actors:Ministry of the Environment and Land Defence, Veneto Region, Emilia Romagna Region, Province Rovigo, Municipality of Porto Tolle, Municipality of Rosolina, Municipality of Adria
International and Finance InstitutionsEuropean Energy Program for Recovery (EEPR)
European Union (EU)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Comitato cittadini liberi di Porto Tolle, Coordinamento dei comitati per la difesa della salute e dell’ambiente del Polesine, Italia Nostra, Rete No Coke Nazionale, Greenpeace Legambiente, WWF, Coordinamento Veneto contro il carbone, ISDE-Medici per l'Ambiente, Forum ambientalista, Rete Stop Enel
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Industrial workers
Informal workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Trade unions
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
In 2006, greenpeace activists occupied for three days the Porto Tolle plant to protests against the coal project. Activists climbed the chimney (250mt) of the power plant and exposed written against the decision of Enel to convert the plant to the use of coal. 25 Activists were arrested for the occupation, they were acquitted in 2013. Local activists organized events and demonstrations (e.g. the national demonstration against coal in Adria, October 2011) with other associations, local committees and networks against the use of coal.
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Fires, Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Other Environmental impacts
Other Environmental impactsThe plant would emit in the air high quantity of CO2, SO2, NOx, PM highly damaging to the environment [2].
In addition, the transit of large vessels for the supply of coal would damage the marine fauna and flora of the Delta river park. [4] The long-term impacts of carbon capture and storage technologies are also unknown.
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths
Other Health impactsPremature deaths caused by the plant emissions were calculated in the 2012 report published by the independent organization SOMO concerning Enel activities and comparing the cost to use coal with the use of other resources. [2]
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Other socio-economic impactsThe local fishing industry and the tourism sector would be damaged by impacts of the coal project. [4]
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Proposal and development of alternatives:Two possible alternatives emerged from the associations against the use of coal. On the one hand, the dismantling and restoration of the area contaminated by the oil-fuel power plant and the conversion to renewables energies. On the other hand, the conversion to natural gas.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:The mobilization, thanks also to the support of national and international environmental associations, was able to face the authorization process showing the negative aspects of project. The mobilization increased in the years and succeeded in involving many citizens and informing the local population on the project and its impacts on health and environment. Inhabitants’ involvement was a great success in an area where lack of interest and information led to accept polluting projects (as the oil fuel power plant) in exchange for workp and urban development.
The mobilization has managed to bring together networks and associations protesting against Enel’s projects to use coal from other places as well.
The project to convert the power plant to coal was stopped. Although there were other obvious strategic reasons for Enel, it is unquestionable that the mobilization had an important impact in the final result.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

[1]Regional Law 8 September 1997, n. 36 (BUR n. 74/1997)
[click to view]

State Council sentence n. 3569/2012
[click to view]

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

[2]Enel Today & Tomorrow. Hidden Costs of the Path of Coal and Carbon versus Possibilities for a Cleaner and Brighter Future, SOMO, May 2012
[click to view]

[3]Porto Tolle CCS demonstration project, 2011
[click to view]

[4]Observations to the Environment Minister. Comitato "cittadini liberi-Porto Tolle", Associazione WWF Provinciale di Rovigo e Ass. Italia Nostra onlus Sezione di Rovigo. 30/01/2013
[click to view]

[5]Study on the environmental compensations reported by the Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (Ispra). 01/2014
[click to view]

[6]Arrests Enel bis process
[click to view]

Report on Enel activities, Rete Stop Enel, 2012
[click to view]

Legambiente article, february 2012
[click to view]

Po Delta Regional Park
[click to view]

Article on the conversion process, June 2012
[click to view]

Surveys on health impacts of fuel oil power plant, 01/2014
[click to view]

Minister of environment stopped authorizations, 01/2014
[click to view]

Rovigo Oggi online newspaper, Porto Tolle plant articles
[click to view]

Il Fatto Quotidiano newspaper web page, Porto Tolle plant articles
[click to view]

WWF campaign
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Greenpeace against coal in Porto Tolle
[click to view]

Other comments:The oil-fuel power plant has been objects of investigation for environmental crimes for years. According to a report carried out by the Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (Ispra) commissioned by the Ministries of Health and Environment, Enel should reimburse the State with a compensation of € 3.6 billion for environmental and health damages caused between 1998 and 2009 by the company in the Po Delta area. [5]Thus, in 2014, the process called “Enel bis” led to the arrest for environmental disaster of the former administrators of the company [6].
Meta information
Contributor:CDCA (
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1507
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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