Italian leader announces plans to deal with Naples' garbage crisis

Wednesday, January 9, 2008
A woman pulled her shopping trolley past a garbage heap Tuesday in downtown Naples, Italy. Premier Romano Prodi announced emergency measures Tuesday to deal with Naples' garbage crisis, including three new incinerators and that other Italian regions might be able to help dispose of the trash. (Salvatore Laporta ~ Associated Press)

No Room at the dump: No trash has been collected in Naples since Dec. 21.

ROME -- Premier Romano Prodi announced emergency measures Tuesday to deal with Naples' garbage crisis, and pledged to curb the control that organized crime has over trash collection.

Prodi also named a new trash commissioner, tapping a former national police chief to deal with the crisis over the next four months. But he said that over the long term, Naples' garbage must be managed locally, not through a government-appointed commissioner.

The premier announced the measures after another night of violent protests between demonstrators and police at the site of the Pianura dump outside Naples. Officials have said the site would be reopened after more than a decade to take in the heaps of garbage mounting on Naples' streets.

Collectors stopped picking up garbage in Naples and the surrounding Campania region Dec. 21 because there was no more room for the trash at dumps. Residents are upset by the uncollected trash but have blocked plans to create new dumps or reopen old sites, claiming health risks.

For some 14 years, Naples has regularly endured such garbage crises. Officials blame organized crime and a powerless and inefficient bureaucracy to deal with the problem.

New incinerators

On Tuesday, Prodi announced emergency and long-term measures to cope with the crisis, saying the objective of the strategy was to "make Italy completely self-sufficient in terms of garbage disposal, avoiding exportation."

He said the area would get three new incinerators. But he also urged other Italian regions to volunteer to take Naples' trash. The northern Valle d'Aosta has offered to help, reports said.

Environment Minister Antonio Pecoraro Scanio has indicated that recycling and building technologically advanced incinerators are the only ways to escape the mob's hold on Naples' garbage.

Prodi also told mayors to draft plans to organize a recycling plan. Armed forces will also be called in to help clear the piles of uncollected garbage, Prodi said.

On Monday, army engineers used bulldozers to scoop up trash from the streets of Caserta, near Naples, working mainly around schools.

With garbage accumulating across the city, residents have taken to burning the stinking mounds, raising concerns about toxic fumes.

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