Page last updated at 14:04 GMT, Saturday, 24 May 2008 15:04 UK

Clashes over Naples rubbish site

Uncollected rubbish in Naples on 20 May
Some 3,000 tonnes of waste are clogging up the streets of Naples

Eight Italian policemen and three other people have been injured in clashes over the site of a new rubbish dump in a densely populated suburb of Naples.

Most injuries occurred overnight but two police were hurt in the morning, trying to remove a bus being used as a barricade near the site in Chiaiano.

The site is one of 10 approved by the new government in a bid to end a crisis over uncollected rubbish in Naples.

Some fear the proximity of the dump could affect local people's health.

The situation in Chiaiano remains tense with residents appearing determined to resist the use of a local stone quarry as a landfill, the BBC's David Willey reports.


Police clash with demonstrators on the streets of Naples

Thousands of tonnes of uncollected rubbish have been lying in the streets of Naples and surrounding towns since Christmas, creating a health hazard.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi announced tough new measures earlier this week to try to solve the rubbish crisis.

But his decision to call in the army to help is causing discontent, with the military saying it is not their job to take up shovels and guns against the wishes of Neapolitans.

'Vulnerable population'

Demonstrators hurled stones and tried to set a bus on fire on Friday night.

BBC map

Police baton-charged the crowd in response, making at least three arrests.

On Saturday morning, a petrol bomb was reportedly thrown at police as they tried to move the bus.

A senior Vatican prelate, Cardinal Renato Martino, criticised the government's waste plans.

Landfills must not be created in densely populated areas like Chiaiano where there are hospitals, sick people and many residents, the cardinal said.

Italy's new Interior Minister, Roberto Maroni, said such reactions as those in Chiaiano were predictable but it was in the interest of all Italians to put an end to what he called a "real national tragedy".

Waste racket

Mr Berlusconi has declared all landfill sites and incinerators to be military zones of strategic national interest and has made anybody blocking access to such sites liable to up to five years in prison.

But, as the BBC's Christian Fraser reports, the root cause of the problem is corruption.

It is estimated that there is something like 3,000 tonnes of waste lying in the streets of Naples and perhaps 200,000 tonnes in the wider Campania region.

The local version of the Mafia, the Camorra, has infiltrated every part of the industry, from collection to treatment to disposal.

It often brings in enormous amounts of industrial waste from the north which it dumps not only in Campania's landfill sites but also in the countryside, with a dramatic effect on public health.

In parts of Campania, doctors say that some cancer rates are much higher than the national average.

The European Commission this month took Italy to the European Court of Justice, stating that the plan it sees on the table is wholly insufficient.

Sweeping up the rubbish is one thing. Cleaning up the corruption that is to blame is a much bigger challenge, our correspondent says.

Neapolitans torch rubbish piles
19 May 08 |  Europe

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