Monday, May 19, 2008

"I am no longer prepared to wait until everyone is in agreement"

So says Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi about the ongoing saga of uncollected trash in Naples, Italy:

[from the BBC] Firefighters battled overnight in the southern Italian city of Naples to extinguish dozens of blazes as angry residents set rubbish piles alight.

The city has some 3,500 tonnes of uncollected rubbish, piled up around its streets.

Italy's prime minister is due to hold a cabinet meeting in the city on Wednesday to address the crisis.

Silvio Berlusconi has hinted he may force local councils to accept new rubbish dumps, despite opposition.

"I am no longer prepared to wait until everyone is in agreement, while the piles of rubbish become mountains of trash," Mr Berlusconi is quoted as saying in Italy's La Repubblica newspaper.

Last week, residents of towns in the region took to the streets in Naples to protest against planned rubbish dumps and processing plants.

There are an estimated 45,000 tonnes of rubbish on the streets in the wider Campania region.

Despite the fact that railcars are expected to begin hauling the trash to Germany this week, the US military has been looking into whether or not to remove Navy personnel from Naples because of the health risks:

The Navy would consider relocating some sailors and their families if health studies show that the continuing trash crisis in the city poses short or long-term health risks.

While details for any plans still are too premature to discuss, Navy officials want people living in the area to know that relocation is an option that the Navy is taking seriously, said Lt. Cmdr. Wendy Snyder, a spokeswoman for Navy Region Europe.

And, yes--it's because of the mafia:

Over the past 13 years, the authorities are estimated to have spent over 1.3bn euros ($2bn) trying and failing to clean up the streets.

Italy argues that part of the problem lies with the local mafia, the Camorra, who are said to control much of the waste business.

In a separate development, the European Commission issued a warning to the Italian government that it was not complying with an earlier ruling from the court of justice on the way rubbish was collected in the Lazio region.

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