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President calls on government to save Naples from rubbish

Foreign minister considers sending trash abroad

24 June, 13:18
President calls on government to save Naples from rubbish (ANSA) - Naples, June 24 - The central government must step in to solve the worsening Naples trash crisis, said Italian President Giorgio Napolitano in a written statement Friday.

"An intervention is absolutely indispensable and urgent," he said, adding that the situation had reached "acute and alarming" proportions.

Armed police escorts have begun accompanying garbage trucks as exasperated protesters have resorted to tipping over dumpsters, blocking traffic and setting flames to the growing piles of waste that choke the daily flow of city life.

Firefighters put out 55 separate trash fires in the city by early morning as others blazed in Naples province.

Napolitano went on to mention the government's inability to pass emergency measures after two days of deliberation, largely due to Northern League opposition to a proposal to transfer thousands of tonnes of rubbish outside the province to other Italian regions.

One possible course of action is to move the trash outside Italy.

In a telephone conversation Friday between Campania Governor Stefano Caldoro and Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, the foreign minister discussed the option of "international agreements with countries that have offered the use of their facilities." Approximately 2,400 tonnes of trash lie uncollected in the city and province of Naples after an escalation of the problem in recent months.

Naples and the surrounding region of Campania have suffered similar crises periodically for a number of years.

The previous public outcry occurred last November when weeks of clashes and rising trash piles brought Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi to the city.

It was then that the premier, who won plaudits by sorting out a similar emergency in 2008, made a vow to clear the streets in three days.

But the problems have returned partly because of technical failures in local incinerators and the lack of investment in other landfill sites.

The issue is further complicated by the role of the local mafia, or Camorra, and claims that they have infiltrated waste management in Naples and dumped toxic waste on sites near residential areas.

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