Waste Crisis Erupts in Naples

NAPLES, Italy, January 7, 2007 (ENS) – Police withdrew today from the entrance of a defunct waste dump that officials say will be reopened to take garbage that has piled up by the ton in the streets of Naples. Although residents of the southern port city are upset by the piles of trash, they have also blocked plans to reopen the dump in the Pianura neighborhood of Naples.

About 500 demonstrators clashed with police at the the dumpsite and cheered when a mechanical shovel that arrived today to clear a three kilometer passage from Don Giustino Russlillo Square to the dump was sent away.

“The choice to activate the Pianura waste disposal in Naples remains firm,” said Umberto Cimmino, the government official in charge of the garbage emergency.

“The police forces today in the afternoon left their control site at the entrance in order to move to surrounding areas where their presence was needed,” Cimmino said.

Garbage piles in the streets of
Naples, Italy. (Photo courtesy
Office of the Prime Minister)

The police negotiated with representatives of angry citizens’ committees in order to allow a change of shift for policemen who had working since dawn.

Garbage collectors stopped picking up trash on December 21, 2007 because there is no more room for it at dumps.

The latest day of missed rubbish collection resulted in about 5,200 metric tons of garbage lying in trash containers and across sidewalks.

Plastic bags, cardboard boxes, wooden crates are creating large piles of rubbish even within the central and more prosperous areas of Naples that in the past had been kept clean in order to keep the tourists from leaving.

In the Campania region some 110,000 tons of garbage have piled up, 60,000 tons in the Naples area alone. Each day that goes by without a dump site or storage area increases the garbage piles by another 800 tons.

Fire alerts keep erupting in the Naples area where only last night’s rain limited the fire department to 30 calls.

The fire department says they are now forced to deal with fires raging over hundreds of cubic meters of garbage, “more like open air dumpsites than piles of rubbish, as they say in the command post,” one fireman said. “And we’re not talking about two cubic metres, which is the average content of a full trash container.”

Naples and Caserta, the hardest hit provinces, are now joined by Avellino, where garbage collection in front of hospitals and military garrisons once again came to a halt today. To date, only six municipalities have come up with temporary storage areas.

Prime Minister Romano Prodi has promised a “radical” solution and has called a cabinet meeting for Tuesday to deal with the problem.

Officials have blamed organized crime infiltration of garbage collection services and disorganized bureaucracy for the mess.

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