NAPLES, Italy – Crews in Naples — where the streets increasingly are lined with trash — began cleaning up a long disused dump Thursday in a bid to ease a mounting garbage crisis.
Two vans went into the dump in the Pianura neighborhood in Naples' outskirts of Naples to start cleaning up the site, which has been closed for years, police said. Earlier Thursday, residents staged a brief roadblock to protest the planned reopening.
The southern Campania region — home to the luxurious Amalfi Coast but also the slums of Naples — has been plagued by garbage crises in recent years. Dumps fill up, and local communities block efforts to build new ones or create temporary storage sites. In 2004, the garbage crisis prompted weeks of protests.
Angry Neapolitans began setting fire to some heaps of garbage this week as foul odors intensified, raising fears of toxic smoke.
The most recent pileup started around Dec. 21 when collectors stopped gathering garbage because there was nowhere to take it. Residents have since resorted to setting trash on fire, raising fears of toxic smoke.
Naples prefect Alessandro Pansa said the Pianura dump is the only site big enough in the area to handle the refuse. He said officials were willing to look at possible compensation for residents.
"The opening of the Pianura dump is necessary to make Naples self-sufficient," the Pansa was quoted as saying by the ANSA news agency.
European Union officials said they were monitoring the situation in Campania, although sanctions against Italy for failing to observe EU garbage laws were not imminent.
"The situation in Campania is an outrage that our country cannot afford anymore," Ermete Realacci, the president of a parliamentary commission for the environment, said on Wednesday. He called on authorities to find appropriates sites and on citizens to recycle to cut down on the amount of garbage discarded.