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Last Updated: Monday, 7 January 2008, 15:01 GMT
Life amid the waste piles of Naples
Piles of rubbish have crammed the streets of Naples since dustmen stopped collecting a fortnight ago.

After angry protests by locals forced to burn the refuse, the Italian army has begun to bulldoze it away.

Pierre Royson, 43, told the BBC News website of the hazards of life amid the mounds of waste.

This is an ongoing problem in Naples. When we first got here two-and-a-half years ago it was appalling and overwhelming to see rubbish piled up the way it is.

Trash collection

One forgets how in other countries rubbish gets picked up regularly.

Here, you go for a couple of weeks, the waste piles up, people gets frustrated and set it on fire. One day you wake up and it is all gone.

But this has gone on for a long time now and it can seriously affect daily life.

The roads are in poor repair at the best of time in Naples and with the trash occupying the space out to the centre lane, only one lane of traffic can pass. It's cars in one lane, piles of rubbish in the next.

There are no pedestrian walkways, so pedestrians have to walk on the streets to get around rubbish. It's dangerous and you are constantly on the lookout for cars and scooters driving past.

Toxic fumes

There is very little recycling and obviously there is no sophisticated waste disposal system. So absolutely everything gets thrown away.

There is serious concern that with all this rubbish being burned on the streets all kinds of toxins could be going up in flames, potentially posing a health risk.

Then there is the smell. A foul odour permeates our whole house because of the burning waste. Our children were here over the past two weeks and they were exposed to it too.

The piles also bring out the feral animals. Yesterday we drove to the airport and passed dozens of rubbish heaps, each one with its own band of rummaging animals. There are mostly dogs and cats, but rats make an appearance as well.

The Neapolitans are a passionate people and they are understandably frustrated by these circumstances. As a result it's easy to find yourself caught up in a riot or protest.

Some friends of ours tried to go through a barricade but their car was attacked and they had to turn back.

It feels a bit like being besieged, but besieged by rubbish! It's like a bad movie. Everywhere you go, your way seems to be blocked by piles of rubbish.


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