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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 January 2008, 17:11 GMT
'Trash tsar' to clear Naples dirt
Burning bus in Pianura, Naples

Italy's Prime Minister Romano Prodi has named a former police chief to tackle a waste crisis in Naples and said three new incinerators will be opened.

Protesters in the suburb of Pianura are blocking access to an old rubbish dump that city officials want to reopen because landfill sites are full.

There have been no waste collections for more than two weeks in Naples.

More than 100,000 tonnes of rubbish lies rotting in the streets. Mr Prodi said troops would help move it.

On Monday the Italian army cleared some of the stinking rubbish from around schools in Naples.

Former Italian police chief Gianni De Gennaro will act as a "special commissioner" to deal with the Naples crisis for the next four months, Mr Prodi said.

It is not clear how soon the three new incinerators - at Acerra, Santa Maria La Fossa and Salerno - will be operational.

Protesters in Pianura erected makeshift barricades with metal fences and rubbish bins to prevent police reaching the landfill site. There have been repeated clashes at the site in the past few days.

Locator map showing Naples and Pianura and Pozzuoli

Naples has been plagued by rubbish crises for the past 14 years, blamed by local officials on organised criminal gangs profiteering from rubbish collection.

Prime Minister Prodi chaired an emergency government meeting on Monday to deal with the latest crisis.

With nowhere to put the rubbish, local people have been burning it.

Health hazard

In Pianura, residents say the landfill site is a health risk.

"I have been told that even 12 years ago the air was unbreathable. Even the clothes hung to dry smelled of garbage," said one demonstrator.

The EU is warning there will be tough penalties unless Italy resolves the crisis this week.

The BBC's Christian Fraser in Rome says the Camorra, the Neapolitan version of the Mafia, has turned rubbish collection into a hugely profitable business.

They have sabotaged every effort to build hi-tech incinerators, so that Naples must rely on landfill sites, where they can hide domestic and industrial waste, he reports.

Millions of tonnes of it have been dumped illegally in the sea or in the countryside, including untreated and highly toxic waste.

Some researchers have linked the problem to Naples' cancer rates, which are much higher than the national average.

Clashes in Naples as the police intervene


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