ROME – Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi claimed Friday that the garbage crisis plaguing Naples has been resolved, even though tons of trash remain uncollected.
Trash collectors in the southern city stopped picking up garbage in December because dumps were full and residents protested against new ones. Angry residents have burned the rubbish and clashed with police in recent months.
Berlusconi has pledged to work quickly to clean up the tons of stinking garbage filling the streets of Naples and the surrounding Campania region, and on Friday he held a Cabinet meeting in Naples for the second time since winning April elections.
Berlusconi said some 50,000 tons of garbage had been cleared. Measures taken by the government include opening new dumps and shipping trash to Germany and to other regions of Italy.
"Naples and Campania are once again Western cities, clean and orderly cities," Berlusconi said at a news conference after the meeting.
Italian TV channels showed some areas of downtown Naples and neighboring towns that were clear of garbage, comparing them with film of rotting piles of trash taken a few weeks ago in the same places.
However some outlying areas hadn't been cleared yet and Berlusconi acknowledged there were still some 2,000 tons of garbage in the streets, mainly hazardous materials that collectors were not allowed to dispose of. He said specialists would remove the last of the buildup by the end of the month.
The government has also ordered the construction of incinerators in the Naples area, but Berlusconi warned it will take three years before the region can handle its garbage in a permanent way.