Magna Grecia PST: a centre of excellence for research on pollution in Taranto
The Scientific and Technological Pole (PST) “Magna Grecia” was inaugurated in Taranto. This is a research centre of excellence aimed to study industrial pollution in the city and to start a business incubator to support entrepreneurship in the territory, in order to requalify the Jonian area.
A colony in ancient Magna Graecia, showing relevant traces of that period, the city of Taranto has achieved today a sad notoriety in Italy and abroad as one of the European “capitals” of industrial pollution. The presence of heavy industries on the territory, including steel factories, oil refineries, cement factories and industrial port has caused serious environmental problems, with a strong impact on the local population health.
An important signal of the need for and the engagement to invert this trend comes from the recent inauguration of the Scientific and Technological Pole “Magna Grecia”: a research centre of excellence that will be responsible for analysing and monitoring the pollution of marine or terrestrial origin as well as encouraging territorial requalification of the Jonian area.
The idea to create a pole in Taranto which is adequately equipped to carry out environmental analyses needed all over the territory is the result of an agreement reached between local administrations – Municipality and Province – and a number of stakeholders in 2008, including players in the “research system” operating in Apulia, such as the University and Polytechnic University of Bari, the National Research Council (CNR), ARPA Puglia. New spur to the initiative has come in 2012 when the project for the enhancement of the Scientific and Technological Pole facilities and equipment was funded by €9.5 million, with contribution of the National Operative Programme for Research and Competitiveness (PONREC).
This enhancement action has supported the acquisition and availability, directly in Taranto, of equipment and tools to carry out studies on the decay of environmental matrixes of water, soil and air that were previously “diverted” to laboratories located in Bari. This project also includes the setting up of “horizontal” facilities to serve the different laboratories – chemical, technological, biological, geologic, geophysics, environmental – such as the computing centre or the e-learning platform aimed to ensure distance training to companies, industrial system and local schools.
The final objective is to start a business incubator to re-launch local entrepreneurship, thus inverting the development model that has been characterizing this area for a long time, in order to turn Taranto from a polluted city to a city in the forefront of research on pollution.