The Remediation of Polluted Sites and the Disputed Status of Public Service

By Francesca Leotta

The remediation of contaminated sites is one of the most complex activities in environmental protection, from both a technical and a regulatory point of view. After episodic legislative intervention in the 1980s and 1990s, the provisions of the «Ronchi» decree (Legislative Decree no. 22/1997) and of the «Environmental Code» (Legislative Decree no. 152/2006) were issued, which outlined highly detailed administrative procedures to organically regulate remediation activities carried out in «ordinary sites» and in «national interest sites» (siti di interesse nazionale, or SIN). Among the problems that have arisen during the implementation of those rules, including in courts, the issue of the legal nature of the clearance operations is particularly worthy of attention. Indeed, in some judgments of the administrative courts, such operations have been qualified as public services «in an objective sense».