UNIC raises its voice: stop with the attacks on the Solofra tanning district

UNIC raises its voice: stop with the attacks on the Solofra tanning district

No more attacks on Solofra’s tanning district. UNIC – Italian Tanners published an official statement to get into the debate that began at the start of Phase 2, on May 4th, with the phrases of Virginia La Mura, congressperson of Movimento 5 Stelle. UNIC decided to raise its voice to defend tanneries that aren’t just facing the difficult consequences of the pandemic. In fact, they also “in recent days, been victims of unfounded attacks relating to their presumed involvement in the pollution of the River Sarno, by political forces that are obviously not aware of what actually goes on in the local area”.

UNIC raises its voice

The Solofra district, points out UNIC, is made of 150 tanneries and 2,000 employees, an annual turnover of €500 million euro, over 75% of which is destined for export. These are entities that “are synonymous of reliability and quality in the international leather area supply chain. As a matter of fact, they operate successfully on the national, European, Far Eastern and United States markets, supplying the most important international fashion brands. The type of excellence that is being the subject of baseless attacks with reasonings clearly proven wrong by facts.

No more attacks

“The deteriorated condition of the River Sarno – writes UNIC -, is not new, but a problem that has been known about for decades, so much so that it has been the subject of several parliamentary investigations, although it has never been resolved. The tanneries are first in line when it comes to wanting a definitive solution to be found for this problem”. A desire based on reasons that are both tied to “environmental responsibility as well as from an ethical and economic standpoint, given that, as shown once again on this occasion, they are repeatedly, superficially and unjustly considered the “scapegoat” of a situation that does not depend on the tanning industry at all, and is caused exclusively by the inadequacy of the civil sewage networks and by the lack of collectors and purifiers downstream of the tanning district.

The truth

What nowadays, sadly, doesn’t emerge enough, and that UNIC highlights, is that “the truth today, far from being the cause of the problem, the Solofra district is one of the few local entities that has a purification complex, one which is even characterised by a dual route through two integrated treatment plants, namely those in Solofra and Mercato S. Severino which, from an environmental point of view, offers a higher degree of protection”.

The demand

Thus, the tanners “tired of suffering mindless attacks, through their national association UNIC, Italy’s national tanning industry union, the tanners in the district have asked the Ministry of the Environment and the Presidency of the Campania Region, as well as all the other relevant authorities, to accelerate and increase the checks aimed at repressing illegal conduct that has nothing to do with the tanning business. In this regard, the companies in the tanning district hereby commit to ensuring their utmost collaboration so that the checks are precise and strict in order to dispel any doubts about their absence of responsibility”. Can’t really get any clearer that that.

The spotlight is on Solofra and its tanneries. The stance taken by UNIC – Italian Tanneries to defend the district is an “important” step, states Mario De Maio (DMD Solofra), president of the tanning section of Confindustria Avellino (industrials’ association). A “fundamental” step to ensure clarity and give back to the public and reference brands that buy leather in Solofra, the truth of the facts. In other words, fight against the “politically-charged populistic views” that made Solofra-based tanneries the “scapegoat” for the pollution of the Sarno river. Which is really is nowhere near reality.

The truth of facts

The chance to start a process that brings the truth back to light, in regard to the excellence of Solofra’s leather, comes at this strange time of pandemic. Covid-19, by imposing the lockdown, proved that the responsibility of the river Sarno’s pollution has nothing to do with tanneries. Mr. De Maio states that “if any polluting incident has occurred throughout the last few years, it has always been accidental. It makes little sense to blame the entire district.

A serious campaign

“All tanners have pushed and are pushing – continues De Maio – to increase actions and activities to communicate such aspects. UNIC’s support is fundamental to begin a serious informational campaign that communicates these aspects. A journey that allows big brands that buy our leather to understand that they should worry. They also shouldn’t trust all they hear, because we have certified facts that prove our side”.

Facts, explains Mr. De Maio, “that have been further proved by an ally, Legambiente (government entity ensuring environmental regulations), which has sent to the NOE pictures and reports made in the days following the lockdown, when the attack started. Photos and reports that showed how the waters were clean from Solofra to Mercato San Severino, while they were very polluted from Castel S. Giorgio onwards, where you enter a problematic and neglected state, because further downstream from the tanneries many municipalities and factories of other sectors spill into the Sarno”. The situation changes in the later part of the river, from San Severino forward, as in these lower parts there are many towns and various types of plants that dump the wastewater into the Sarno”.

Work in progress

ARPAC (the regional agency for the protection of the environment) will draft reports every month, collecting and presenting certified data – explains De Maio -. This will allow us to show brands, politicians and committees that we are not at fault and should not continue to be used as scapegoats when discussing the Sarno’s pollution”. The next step has to do with the management of wastewater. “We are evaluating the situation to understand what could happen when the San Severino water treatment plant will move under the management of Gori, which runs other nearby ones.

This way, Solofra’s will remain the only treatment plant managed by Cogei. We are working to activate a consortium of tanners that, together with public interests, will manage the plant or utilizes a contractor. The goal is to continue providing quality treatment and consistent costs, in order to be able to provide real and useful answers to companies and brands”.  

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