Nuclear waste? No grazie!

04/27/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

While Obama ponders just how to improve the US economy through the implementation of clean energy production, in Italy, Berlusconi seeks a return to nuclear power, notwithstanding the results of a 1986 popular referendum that banned new development of nuclear power. In this sad landscape, however, there is good news.

In 2003, Berlusconi tried to establish a European nuclear waste deposit on a former salt mine, only 200 yards away from one of the most beautiful and untouched coasts of South Italy, Scanzano Jonico of the Basilicata region. The site is 35 miles away from the town of Matera, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Matera region is striking in its beauty, and produces one of the largest quantities of organic products in Italy.

When the government announced its intention to use this land to dump nuclear waste, the people of Basilicata organized a huge protest and blocked all ways of communication in and out of the region. Trains, roads, and even mail were blocked for almost a month. During this period, Nobel Peace Laureate Betty Williams visited the protesters and appealed to the Italian government for an alternative use of this territory. She wanted to build on that land a City of Peace to host children from areas torn by war. Betty fought nonstop for over four years to obtain that land. Finally, at the end of 2007, the Basilicata region allocated 4.4 million euro for the start-up of the project and the Municipality of Scanzano Jonico gave the City of Peace 17 acres on that same land.

The project is finally starting and the City of Peace for Children in Basilicata will host, for the first four years, 25 minors accompanied by at least one parent or tutor in refurbished houses situated across two villages, Scanzano Jonico and Sant'Arcangelo. In the second phase, the hosting facility will have the capacity for over 1,000 children . On the land that was chosen for nuclear waste deposit, there will be instead an organic farm covered by solar powered technology to produce clean energy for the municipality of Scanzano Jonico.

As suggested by the World Centers of Compassion for Children International, founded by Betty Williams in 1998, the City is envisaged both as "a time and a space for Education to Peace and to the formation of excellence" and also a safety area for children and their families coming from war zone nations and applying for a refugee status.

Beyond the state of the art hosting facility for children and their family members, the City of Peace project also intends to constitute a broad-range research campus based on three principals. The first and fundamental principle is Education. An educational criterion that juxtaposes the paradigm of studied "data" and that is aimed in every sense at the future of the world. Utilizing the international network of WCCC International, the premises of the City of Peace are to host formation courses for both teachers and pupils of all ages that will deepen the themes of peace starting from ourselves as the source. Additionally, an "educational package" for the schools will be produced, translated into several languages and published as a formation tool for teachers and young people in other countries.

An "Observatory on Forgotten Wars" and a News Agency "News not in the News" will also be activated. A laboratory that will focus on information about the myriad of "hidden" wars that are never mentioned by the official media, with a proper formation courses for young reporters interested in highlighting the "South" of the world.

A music school for children and a Youth Orchestra will be activated with the partnership of the Conservatorium of Matera.

On the front of clean energy and medical research, the scouting work is still in progress. The objective is to create small laboratories/workshops in order to form a generation of young people schooled in these themes.

For once, viva l'talia!

lkiss@inwind.it