Angry Neapolitans talking lots of trash

Garbage piles up as dumps are shut

Garbage was everywhere in Naples yesterday, as residents sought to pressure officials to resume trash collection, which has been hampered as dumps fill up and are closed down. Garbage was everywhere in Naples yesterday, as residents sought to pressure officials to resume trash collection, which has been hampered as dumps fill up and are closed down. (SALVATORE LAPORTA/ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Email|Print| Text size + By Salvatore Laporta
Associated Press / January 5, 2008

NAPLES - Mounds of garbage piled up on the streets of Naples yesterday, and officials across the country blamed organized crime and red tape for the city's refuse crisis.

Effigies of city officials, suspended from lampposts and trees, reflected the fury of Naples's citizens, who have had to live amid their own refuse since Dec. 21, when collectors stopped gathering it because there was nowhere to take it.

Residents have resorted to setting trash on fire, raising fears of toxic smoke.

"Garbage is piling up outside our building," said Angela Sepe as she walked on the outskirts of the city. "I don't go downstairs anymore to throw it away but throw it out the window because the garbage has already reached" as high as the second-floor window.

Naples and other parts of the southern Campania region have been plagued by a series of garbage crises for more than a decade. Dumps fill up and local communities block efforts to build new ones or create temporary storage sites. In 2004, a garbage crisis prompted weeks of protests.

On Thursday, angry residents in the city's Pianura neighborhood blocked a street to protest the reopening of a long-closed dump. Fire officials said four empty buses in the neighborhood were set afire overnight, apparently in protest of the dump's reopening.

About 100 young protesters marched on City Hall yesterday. Some occupied a central balcony and the roof, where they hung banners protesting the reopening of the dump and demanding a full-fledged plan to improve recycling in the area, the ANSA and Apcom news agencies reported.

Local, regional, and national officials handed out blame for the southern city's chronic inability to properly dispose of its trash.

Several lawmakers said the government's creation in 1994 of a special office of trash commissioner to deal with Naples's continuing garbage crisis was part of the problem.

Leading Italian daily Corriere della Sera published a lengthy investigation yesterday, detailing findings by a parliamentary committee that allege corruption and inefficiency in the commissioner's office.

Such reports have helped fuel local anger at the city's politicians, who have failed to solve the problem.

"Let's bring it [the garbage] to their homes," said Rosaria Esposito, strolling through the center of Naples, where trash was piled up on some streets.

Environment Minister Antonio Pecoraro Scanio, a harsh critic of the commissioner's office, also blamed what he called the "ecomafia," a reference to Naples's organized crime syndicate, the Camorra, and its hold on garbage collection.

In an interview with the free daily E Polis, Pecoraro Scanio said the only way to escape the mob's hold on the city's garbage was to get more Neapolitans to recycle and to build technologically advanced plants to dispose of the garbage in an environmentally friendly way.

Pecoraro Scanio said the Camorra was taking advantage of the fires set by residents to get rid of toxic waste.

The effigies hanging yesterday carried banners with slogans critical of Antonio Bassolino, the governor of Campania, and the city's mayor, Rosa Russo Iervolino, the Apcom news agency reported. There have been calls for days for Bassolino to resign.

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