Italian Army Called In to Help Clear Piles of Uncollected Trash in Naples

The Italian army bulldozed piles of uncollected trash away from schools in the Naples area on Monday, more than two weeks into the city's latest garbage crisis.

Residents in the suburb of Pianura on Monday clashed with police at roadblocks they set up to bar access to a long-closed garbage dump that authorities are trying to reopen to ease the crisis. People in the area say the reopening would pose a health risk.

TV footage showed protesters scuffling with police and at least one person was seen being carried away with injuries.

Collectors stopped picking up garbage in Naples and the surrounding Campania region on Dec. 21, because there is no more room for it at dumps.

Although citizens are angered by the uncollected trash, they have also blocked plans to create new dumps or reopen old sites.

The barricades at Pianura, made with garbage, metal railings and old tires snarled traffic in the area and blocked trucks heading for the dump with equipment needed to reopen it, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.

Before dawn, army engineers used bulldozers to scoop up trash from the streets of Caserta, near Naples, working mainly around schools, which were reopening Monday after the Christmas break, the Defense Ministry said.

With garbage accumulating across the city, residents have taken to burning the stinking mounds, raising alarm over toxic fumes.

The lack of space at dumps has caused periodic pileups in Naples for several years.

The latest crisis has prompted calls for the resignation of local officials who had promised to solve the decade-old problem. Authorities have blamed organized crime infiltration of garbage collection services, disorganized bureaucracy and the protests that hinder the construction of dumps and disposal plants.

Premier Romano Prodi, who has pledged to solve the problem "once and for all," met Monday with government ministers to come up with a strategy. The talks were expected to continue on Tuesday.