The fire in the VERITAS waste depot for old furniture and large objects in Fusina a few days ago caused some debate not just about the management of the facility but involving the field of communications in general, and the authority of our “Institutions”. In a society characterised by a multitude of channels for news distribution (not necessarily sources), by the speed with which news can spread, amplified by sharing on “social media”, the credibility of information is a fundamental problem of our times.
In this particular case, a news release attributed to the Simage alert service that was disseminated by an unidentified organisation with a seemingly official denomination conflicted with the information contained in the Arpav bulletins, based on canister samplings and testing for organic micropullutants.
The first samples were taken at 11:50 about two hours after the huge grey cloud formed over Marghera, the final sample was taken at 18:25, with the peak measurements taken at 14:30.
We can hypothesise that the time lag between the two communications was due to the lack of danger and a resistance to cause precautionary alarm in the population? Or can we suppose that the delay was due to the time needed to analyse the air samples? In this case would it not have been better to adopt the Precautionary Principle and, with total transparency, let the population know exactly what was happening and advise everyone to not let children play outdoors and to keep their windows closed for the hours that the dark grey cloud was spreading?