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Italy's Berlusconi vows to clean up Naples by mid-July

by Staff Writers
Rome (AFP) July 1, 2008
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi vowed on Tuesday that Naples would be "liberated" of the rubbish jamming its streets by mid-July.

"In two weeks, we will have definitively liberated the streets of the city of Naples from the rubbish," Berlusconi told a news conference in nearby Acerra, where one of four new incinerators is being built.

Rubbish czar Guido Bertolaso, named by Berlusconi in May to handle the mafia-linked crisis, had earlier set a mid-August deadline.

"We are headed towards a solution that will put the problem behind us," Berlusconi said.

Acerra is the site for the first of four high-technology incinerators to be set up in Naples' impoverished Campania region, which has been dogged by a dysfunctional waste disposal system since 1994.

Berlusconi said the Acerra incinerator would go into service next January and be "fully operational" by April 2009.

In the meantime, Naples' rubbish will be sent to other parts of Italy for treatment, he said.

Berlusconi, elected in April, promised to resolve the overall rubbish crisis in three years, and his conservative government has begun opening 10 new dumps under military guard in the region.

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

Existing dumps are filled to capacity in the region, which has no incinerators and recyclable waste regularly fails to be sorted.

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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