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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 March, 2004, 02:53 GMT
Naples schools close in 'rubbish' crisis
By Frances Kennedy
BBC correspondent in Rome

The seafront at Naples
Rubbish has been left for two weeks in places in and around Naples

Italian schools will close for the day in parts of Naples and surrounding towns on Thursday - because of a domestic refuse crisis.

Tens of thousands of children will be kept home because rubbish has not been collected for two weeks and is festering in huge piles in the streets.

The crisis is caused by a lack of incinerators to destroy the waste, and has fuelled protests.

Some angry residents have set fire to the rubbish.

The authorities are looking to send the trash by train to northern regions, to have it destroyed.


Immense piles of rotting rubbish and overflowing bins are threatening to submerge the streets of countless towns around Naples as well as the port city.

Residents are forced to wear masks or cover their faces with handkerchiefs to block the stench.

Tourists visiting the ancient Roman site of Herculaneum are faced with rotten plastic bags at the entrance.

Many mayors have ordered that schools be closed to prevent exposing children to extra health risks, and local food markets are also being shut down.

There are worries about public order after exasperated residents in the town of Aversa set fire to overflowing waste containers.


Rubbish has not been collected in the region for two weeks now for a very simple reason - there is nowhere left to put it.

For years there have been plans to build new incinerators - but no-one wants one in their own back yard.

The landfill sites are now saturated and the authorities are desperately trying to send some of the waste by train to better-equipped regions in the north.

The situation in the Naples is an extreme example of a Europe-wide dilemma - the incapacity to either reduce the amount of waste consumers produce, or find solutions that meet the environmental expectations of the local population.

Ironically, by resisting high-technology incinerators as potentially hazardous, residents are now grappling with the very real risks of plain, old-fashioned trash.

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