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. Berlusconi says Naples rubbish crisis is over

by Staff Writers
Rome (AFP) July 17, 2008
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Thursday the rubbish crisis in Naples was over, one day before his cabinet was due to hold a meeting in the southern city.

"Tomorrow I will preside over a cabinet meeting in Naples and announce that -- as residents of Naples and the region are able to confirm -- the waste disposal crisis is over and there is no more rubbish on the streets," Berlusconi told journalists.

He said 35,000 tonnes of rubbish had been removed from the city and surrounding area.

However, he stressed that the problem would only be solved permanently when incinerators planned for the Campania region are in place and the number of rubbish dumps increased.

Berlusconi had made solving the rubbish crisis a priority of his government, having promised at the beginning of July that it would be solved by the end of the month.

The government ordered the opening of 10 new rubbish tips in the region and said they would be guarded by the army if necessary.

The daily Repubblica newspaper acknowledged Thursday there had been "unmistakeable progress" in the centre of Naples and areas north of the city, but noted a continued problem in the eastern suburb of Ponticelli.

The impoverished Campania region has been dogged by a dysfunctional waste disposal system since 1994.

Existing dumps are filled to capacity and the region has no incinerators.

The European Commission in May opened legal proceedings against Italy over the rubbish crisis, hoping to force Rome to take more urgent action.

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