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Last Updated: Friday, 28 November, 2003, 11:55 GMT
Italians celebrate nuclear victory
Scanzano residents will not have to live with nuclear waste
Residents of the coastal town of Scanzano in Southern Italy are celebrating after plans to build an underground nuclear waste dump in the area were scrapped.

Bowing to weeks of pressure from protestors, the Italian government decided late on Thursday to strike the town's name from a 13 November decree, which authorised the construction of a single site to store all of the country's nuclear waste.

The government regards the consolidation of nuclear-waste storage facilities as a national priority, in order to improve protection against a possible terrorist attack.

It has now ordered a scientific committee to come up with a new site within 18 months.

Local pride

Speaking to the Italian news agency, Ansa, local resident Carlo Carlucci said he considered this to be the happiest day of his life.

"They just consider us sheep not capable of fighting. But we have shown how tough we are and that local pride is unbeatable," he said.

Scanzano has a successful economy based on tourism and agriculture. Residents feared the nuclear dump would destroy the economy.

The government will be more sensitive when choosing the next site, but the issue can no longer be put off
Enrico La Loggia
Minister for Regional Affairs
They also had health concerns, pointing out that some of the waste will remain dangerous for 150,000 years.

Located in an area of outstanding natural beauty and surrounded by olive trees, vineyards and orange groves, Scanzano has been called "Italy's California".

The town depends on tourism and agriculture and boasts zero unemployment, compared to 19% in the rest of the generally poor south of Italy.

The government's announcement that it plans to bury 80,000 cubic metres of nuclear waste 800 metres under Scanzano in a natural layer of rock salt provoked massive protests.

Thousands of people demonstrated regularly - some camped out on the storage site, thousands more marched on parliament in Rome.

Italy closed down all four nuclear power plants in 1987, but the spent fuel from these decommissioned power stations now present a security risk.

"We have this terrible situation with more than 100 sites. They are a danger to the population", said the Minister for Relations with Parliament, Carlo Giovanardi. "There is even talk of radioactive waste in hospital waste tips."

Italy's nuclear waste is scattered throughout the country, including hospitals and universities. It is considered to be too easily accessible and authorities fear that it could be used to build a dirty bomb.

The Minister for Regional Affairs, Enrico La Loggia, says the government will be more sensitive when choosing the next site, but "the issue can no longer be put off".

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