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Pioltello-Rodano (Italy)

2009 - 2010

In 1947, a rudimental carbide-acetylene factory was established in the eastern hinterland of Milan by Società Italiana Serie Acetica Sintetica (SISAS). The signature of a strategic agreement with BASF, in 1953, made of SISAS the first chemical company in Italy to obtain acetylene through the then innovative methane cracking process. The following site's incredible expansion – which included production lines for key intermediates (vinyl acetate, butyl acetate, phthalic anhydride and more) as well as an air-fractioning plant jointly run with Linde – was however suddenly halted by the 1970s oil and energy crisis. After a difficult restructuring, the factory became the target of environmental organizations and citizens concerned with the harmful impacts of its activities on public health. Sentenced in 1986 by Milan Court to reclaim some illegal and heavily polluted carbon black landfills within the site perimeter, the company gradually revealed a disastrous financial situation. With debts accumulated for over 1000 billions of Italian lira, mainly due to failed takeovers and reckless financial operations, SISAS was unable to fulfill the legal injunction and thus declared bankruptcy in 2001. The case was brought to the attention of the European Commission too, which referred Italy to the European Court of Justice due to the long-time missed reclamation. The clean-up was then completed in 2011, after the site demolition.

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