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Army to tackle Naples trash again

Berlusconi blames local officials for new crisis

05 May, 13:52
Army to tackle Naples trash again (ANSA) - Naples, May 5 - The army is to be sent back to Naples to help solve the city's festering trash crisis, Premier Silvio Berlusconi said Thursday.

"Since the garbage mounds have formed again in the streets of Naples we have asked for the intervention of the army once more," the premier said after a cabinet meeting.

"From Monday our men will be back in the field," he said.

Berlusconi said 170 soldiers with more than 70 trucks will try to get the situation back under control and make Naples "a civilised city again". Rejecting charges he had fallen short of his autumn pledge to clean up the city in three days, Berlusconi said local administration had let Naples down.

"I should like to say it isn't true that the Italian government and in particular Premier Berlusconi did not work a miracle.

"The miracle was achieved, and we left Naples clean, telling local administrators what they should do.

"But they didn't do it, as shown by the fact that a tender has not even been issued for the two incinerating plants".

The long-running trash crisis has re-emerged with a vengeance over the last few weeks as the production of refuse outpaced disposal leaving up to 2,000 tonnes of uncollected rubbish in the streets.

Street piles have risen so high that disposal vehicles are unable to manage them comfortably and trucks were backed up at dumps, according to Hygiene Councillor Paolo Giacomelli.

"At least we haven't had any more fires," he added.

Garbage mounds have been regularly torched over the last few weeks as residents try to clear a way through the refuse.

Overworked fire-fighters have been called out to an average 15 blazes a night recently in the heart of Naples and the Chiaiano suburb where a contested dump is located.

Garbage has also been torched in various towns in the surrounding province.

The rubbish emergency has fuelled fears of health risks from rising temperatures and arson.

After the first fires were set ablaze in trash mounds, Giacomelli said: "I'm very worried because fires cause public-health risks because of the emission of dioxins into the air.

"I think that as temperatures rise we absolutely have to find a solution to reduce the quantity of refuse still in the streets".

Giacomelli appealed to local authorities to greenlight disposal in new landfills.

The trash crisis has been largely caused by resistance to opening new disposal sites.

Weeks of clashes and rising trash piles brought Berlusconi to the city in early November.

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

Thanks largely to the intervention of the army, Naples was briefly cleaned up but Berlusconi's pledge ran into renewed opposition to landfills and a delay in the start-up of incineration plants.

The situation was subsequently brought under control around Christmas time with the help of other Italian regions.