Prodi Announces Emergency Measures in Naples Garbage Crisis

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Premier Romano Prodi announced emergency measures Tuesday to deal with Naples' garbage crisis including three new incinerators and that other Italian regions might be able to help dispose of the trash.

Prodi also named a new trash commissioner, tapping a former national police chief to deal with the crisis over the next four months. But he said that over the long term, Naples' garbage must be managed locally, not through a government-appointed commissioner.

The premier announced the measures after another night of violent protests between demonstrators and police at the site of the Pianura dump outside Naples. Officials have said the site would be reopened after more than a decade to deal with the heaps of garbage mounting on Naples' streets.

Collectors stopped picking up garbage in Naples and the surrounding Campania region Dec. 21 because there was no more room for the trash at dumps. Although residents are upset by the uncollected trash, they have blocked plans to create new dumps or reopen old sites, claiming health risks.

For around 14 years, Naples has regularly endured such garbage crises, blamed by officials on organized crime's hold on garbage collection, and a powerless and inefficient bureaucracy to deal with it.

On Tuesday, Prodi announced emergency and long-term measures to cope with the crisis, saying the objective of the strategy was to "make Italy completely self-sufficient in terms of garbage disposal, avoiding exportation."

He said three new incinerators for the area would be put to work while a "sufficient" number of dumps would also be designated. But he said that in the short term, other Italian regions could volunteer to take Naples' trash to ease the crisis. Already, the northern Valle d'Aosta has offered to help, news reports said.

However, there remained many questions about how soon the incinerators could be operational and where the dumps would be located since previous efforts to create new sites or reopen old ones had been met with resident protests. One of the planned incinerators is nearly completed, while the two other must be built, the Environment Ministry said.

Prodi also told mayors in the region to draft plans to organize recycling in the region within two months and implement it in another 60 days.

Environment Minister Antonio Pecoraro Scanio has indicated that recycling and building technologically advanced incinerators to dispose of the trash was the only way to escape the mob's hold on Naples' garbage.

Armed forces would also be called in to help clear the piles of uncollected garbage, Prodi said.

On Monday, army engineers used bulldozers to scoop up trash from the streets of Caserta, near Naples, working mainly around schools that reopened Monday after the Christmas break.

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