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Italy pledges to honour Naples rubbish plan after EU ultimatum

by Staff Writers
Rome (AFP) Jan 31, 2008
Italy pledged Thursday to follow through with its emergency plan to clear mountains of rubbish from the Naples region after the European Commission gave Rome a one-month ultimatum to resolve the crisis.

"Italy will continue its commitment to the full implementation of the plan that was approved by the government and will keep the European Commission informed of progress," said Manuel Jacoangeli, the spokesman of Italy's representation in Brussels, according to the ANSA news agency.

The southern Italian city and surrounding Campania region have been under mounds of rubbish since late December when landfill sites reached capacity and garbage collectors went on strike.

Sites earmarked for accepting the excess rubbish have seen daily protests by residents of the impoverished central region, sometimes degenerating into clashes with security forces.

The European Commission had earlier Thursday given Italian authorities one month to prove they are doing all in their power to resolve the rubbish crisis or face court action.

The EU executive also called for "speedy compliance on waste management."

The government plan announced January 8 as well as new measures decided on January 21 seem to have borne fruit in the centre of Naples, but garbage is still piling up in many of the city's suburbs and Campania towns.

The private company collecting the rubbish, Asia, told AFP that "only" 800 tonnes of excess rubbish remained to be collected in the city centre, whose residents produce some 1,400 tonnes each day.

Residents fed up with the mountains of rubbish set dozens of fires every night, and firefighters put out 70 blazes overnight.

The government plans to open dumps temporarily and to build at least three incinerators in the region.

Many of the landfills in Campania are controlled by the regional Camorra mafia, who make a lucrative business out of subverting waste-handling procedures and shipping in industrial waste from the north.

Since 1994, when the government decreed an "emergency situation" in the region, several dumps infiltrated by the mafia have been closed and companies investigated, though noone has been convicted.

EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas has been particularly scathing about Rome's handling of the latest crisis.

"What we are witnessing these days in Naples is not a crisis coming out of the blue," he told members of the European Parliament on January 15.

"It is the culmination of a more than 14-year-old process of insufficient implementation of European waste legislation for which Italy has repeatedly been condemned by the European Court of Justice."

He said the EU's executive body "is ready to pursue its legal proceedings against Italy. Continuing breaches of (EU) environmental law in Campania must be brought to an end."

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Protecting The Alps From Traffic Noise And Air Pollution
Bonn, Germany (SPX) Jan 29, 2008
A European research project under the name of ALPNAP comes to a conclusion that helps to minimise noise and air pollution along main alpine traffic routes. The project was led by the German Aerospace Center's (DLR) Institute for Atmospheric Physics. The findings will be presented to the public from 23rd to 25th January, 2008 at a conference in Innsbruck.

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