sabato 24 maggio 2008

GARBAGE CRISIS, POLICE AND LOCALS CLASH IN NAPLES TRASH PROTEST




Police clashed with demonstrators in Chiaiano, a poor quarter of Naples on Saturday after a night of riots over the Italian government's attempt to end the chronic rubbish problem by opening new dumps against locals' wishes. Witnesses said two police officers and two protesters were hurt when police tried to remove a bus used as a barricade to block access to a landfill site at a quarry in the Chiaiano neighbourhood. Police said protesters had thrown a petrol bomb. The location of new dumps was being kept secret but clashes erupted overnight in Chiaiano, on the outskirts of the southern port city, after an official said it would be used for some of the trash piling up in the streets of Naples since the end of last year, when almost all dumps were declared full. New Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has made the crisis a top priority and passed a decree this week allowing new landfill sites and making them military zones, to dissuade protests.
He held a cabinet meeting in the city on Wednesday to highlight the trash crisis, which he has vowed to treat "exactly as if it were an emergency caused by an earthquake or volcano eruption". Politicians from right and left said they understood locals' sentiments but said landfills were more hygienic than leaving trash to rot or burn in plastic sacks in the street. The dumps are a temporary move while new waste incinerators are built. "The mayors of towns where tips will be opened must make people see that more damage is done to the environment and their health by rubbish tipped on the street and set on fire," said Maurizio Gasparri, from Berlusconi's conservative party. "The exasperation of the people in Chiaiano about being chosen for Naples' urban rubbish does not justify violence," said Ermete Realacci, shadow environment minister for the centre-left opposition. "And this is not dangerous waste." In the election campaign Berlusconi blamed the outgoing centre-left government for a crisis dating back 14 years which has caused illness and scared off tourists. But critics say he should have dealt with it when he was last premier from 2001-2006. The situation is further complicated by the involvement of the Naples mafia, or "Camorra", in the lucrative business of illegally disposing of toxic waste for Italian industry.

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