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Italy facing court action over rubbish


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May 7, 2008

Italy facing court action over mounting rubbish piles in Naples

Richard Owen in Rome

The rubbish crisis in Naples, where heaps of toxic and foul-smelling waste have been left rotting in the streets since Christmas, is heading for the courts after the European Commission announced yesterday that it was taking Italy to the European Court of Justice.

Italy’s Prime Minister-elect, Silvio Berlusconi, responded by promising decisive action to resolve the emergency and avoid EU fines. The developments came as barricades and protests returned to the streets of Naples, amid public fury over the crisis. Firemen have been called out to dozens of fires over the past few days as desperate residents burn the rubbish mountains, which are a growing health risk as warmer weather arrives.

Some rubbish has been cleared by the Italian army. But nearly six months on, most of the great heaps of split plastic bags and dustbin liners remain, and so does the stench, with residents covering their faces with handkerchiefs as smoke rises from the festering, burning mounds.

Three landfill sites have been reopened but are already full, and the Campania region’s first new incinerator is not due to begin working until next year. Suburbs where the authorities are trying to reopen other dumps look like war zones, with barricades of overturned rubbish bins, corrugated iron and tyres, manned by menacing young men.

Full story, source: The Times

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