The Case of the Lagoon of Venice
The Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei series on Economics, the Environment and Sustainable Development
Edited by Anna Alberini, Paolo Rosato and Margherita Turvani
Chapter 10: Governing Environmental Restoration: Institutions and Industrial Site Clean-ups
Francesco Trombetta and Margherita Turvani 10.1 INTRODUCTION The Lagoon of Venice is a complex natural resource and ecological system that has been long subject to a variety of natural and anthropic stimuli. The contaminated sites of Marghera, the large chemical complex on the mainland side of the Lagoon, have contributed several such stimuli over the last decade, and in addition pose a potentially serious threat to public health. Cleaning up these sites, and redeveloping them when they are abandoned, is an important step towards reducing these negative externalities. The contaminated sites of Marghera are an example of brownfields. Brownfields are defined by the US Environmental Protection Agency as abandoned, idled, or under-used industrial and commercial facilities where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination.1 Brownfields are the result of two concurrent processes. The first is the transformation of the economy, with the downsizing and relocation of manufacturing and the increasingly larger role of the service sector. The second is institutional, and is the introduction of environmental legislation for the protection of public health and the environment that impose liability for the cost of cleanup at contaminated sites. For these reasons the brownfield problem is now common to all industrialized countries and is very serious in Eastern European countries, which face the consequences of the heavy impact of centrally planned economies on environmental contamination. In this chapter we propose an explanation for such coevolution, providing a framework for the institutional setups that seek to address the brownfields...