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First army-controlled dump opens in Naples region

Uncollected rubbish are pictured on June 11, 2008 in a street of Pozzuoli, near Naples. Eleven entrepreneurs suspected of links with the Naples-area Camorra mafia were arrested on June 11, 2008, accused of illegally burying household rubbish and sometimes toxic industrial waste, police said. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on visit in Naples on June 11, 2008 vows to resolve the long-running rubbish crisis in the southern Naples region within three years. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Rome (AFP) June 14, 2008
The Italian army on Saturday opened a dump to dozens of trucks bringing in rubbish from the Naples area under a government plan to resolve the poor southern region's chronic waste disposal crisis.

The site at Savignano Irpino, some 100 kilometres (60 miles) northeast of Naples, is one of 10 set to be opened in the Campania region -- often over the protests of local residents -- under the plan, which may be amended to allow soldiers into the streets to quell unrest.

"From here, the government makes a fresh start on the challenge of resolving Campania's emergency," Guido Bertolaso, the junior minister appointed to tackle the crisis, said at the dump.

Press reports said up to 2,500 armed soldiers would be allowed to patrol Naples and other troubled Italian cities under a proposal to be put to the Senate next week.

The "security package", designed initially to help resolve Naples' rubbish crisis, will be applicable to other cities where police are unable to cope with security concerns, Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa was quoted as telling Italian reporters in Brussels.

The measure is designed as a deterrent and a "demonstration of the presence of the state," said La Russa.

Under a May 21 decree, new landfills in the Campania region -- where existing dumps are filled to capacity -- are considered military zones and guarded as such.

The amended decree, renewable after six months, would allow local administrators across the country to ask the army to carry out "specific and exceptional crime prevention missions."

Television images showed trucks hauling in rubbish into the new Savignano dump, but there was little sign of the protests that had preceded the opening three weeks ago.

Savignano's Mayor Oreste Ciasullo vented his frustration, telling the ANSA news agency: "We are suffering the force of the strong against the weak. For four years we argued our case, but no one listened."

Right-wing Milan Mayor Letizia Moratti hailed the proposal to allow soldiers to quell unrest as "very positive" and "an important warning signal" from the government at a time when many Italians feel unsafe.

But the opposition centre-left Democratic Party, defeated in mid-April elections, immediately condemned what it called the planned "militarisation" of Italy.

Centre-left Turin Mayor Sergio Chiamparino said in an interview with the daily La Repubblica published Saturday: "It's throwing oil on the fire. ... It can only aggravate the spiral of fear and citizens' concerns."

A "waste disposal state of emergency" in the Naples area has been renewed annually since 1994.

Two major investigations are under way into the alleged collusion of officials with local waste handling companies -- many infiltrated by the local Camorra mafia -- and suspected irregularities in the waste management system.

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