ITALY NEWS

Sardinia in uproar over rumours of U.S. base expansion

Growth plans for naval base italian resort island sparks controversy
(issue no. 20/2005 / November 17, 2005)

The American military base, or more precisely, the U.S. Naval Support Activity (NSA) La Maddalena, is a base located just off the waters of the vacation paradise island Sardinia, and it has become the centre of a controversy that has now caught the attention of European officials.

 

Various sources seem to confirm that what had originally appeared to be a small renewal project at the base has now exceeded all limits of expansion, causing concern amongst Sardinians, as well as with the European Commission, that the base is overstepping its boundaries.

 

The EU Commission recently sent a notification of violation of Article 10 of the EU Treatise to the Italian government for not having responded to the request for an explanation and divulgation of expansion plans for the military base. Various ministers within the Italian government responded that this was an exaggerated reaction to a simple and “small” renewal pro-ject, while others were shocked when they realised the extent of the base’s unreported expansion projects.

 

The U.S. military base for nuclear submarines has long been an issue of contention for the island community. Contention began in 1972 when the base was constructed without the Italian government’s approval. And, today, fears are that the nuclear submarines often stationed at the base are a risk not only to the surrounding nature reserve, which includes the entire archipelago around the base, but also to the civilian population of the island. Many also believe it is a deterrent to visitors who come for the area’s pristine waters.

 

In an interview last May with an Italian newspaper, former U.S. Ambassador Mel Sembler was quick to point out that both Italian and American studies verified that there was no evidence of radioactive contamination from the base. Sembler also emphasised the importance of the continuing operation of this base in collaboration with NATO as a fundamental part of efforts in the Mediterranean region to combat terrorist threats.

 

There are currently about 2,500 military personnel located at the base.

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