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Naples locals block site to protest rubbish dumping

by Staff Writers
Rome (AFP) May 25, 2008
Angry locals in a Naples suburb continued on Sunday blocking a site chosen by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government to dump waste in order to solve an ongoing crisis over rubbish removal.

At least 12 people were injured in clashes with police this weekend during mass demonstrations by hundreds in the suburb of Chiaiano, with citizens resisting the choice of their area for a dumping ground.

Commentators said the confrontation began to look like a standoff between the government and just one local community that could threaten Berlusconi's plans for solving the 14-year Naples rubbish crisis.

But Berlusconi was adamant that the controversial new measures must go ahead whatever the locals felt.

"The state cannot give in," he said Saturday. "The problem of waste must be resolved. We musn't give way, not a centimetre."

Waste has been piling up in Naples all these years for various reassons. The local mafia has been accused of responsibility because it has infiltrated the lucrative waste disposal market over the last 20 years, say experts.

But other reasons for the chronic overflow include lack of disposal dumps, the absence of an incinerator in the Campania region, and almost no system for sorting recyclable waste.

The Naples mafia, known as the Camorra, are best known for drug trafficking, but experts say the highly lucrative clandestine trade in industrial waste is their second source of revenue.

Undercutting competitors and subverting safety procedures, the "ecomafia" ship industrial waste from the north and dump it illegally in and around Naples.

Since Friday demonstrations have been ongoing day and night in Chiaiano with locals blocking access to disused quarries requisitioned by government decree, along with nine other sites elsewhere to absorb 35,000 tonnes of rubbish that have piled up in Naples and surroundings.

The newspaper La Repubblica said the challenge by the locals threatened Berlusconi's determination to resolve the problem and could turn the insurgents into "national symbols of resistance to an authoritarian political class incapable of finding effective solutions during 14 years of crisis."

Massimo Nuvoletti, deputy mayor of Marano, a district adjoining Chiaiano, said Sunday: "We are only claiming the right to run our own territory.

"These decisions were taken over our heads, we were not consulted, that's the problem."

Other mayors including those of the communities of Serre and Terzigno which have suffered years of crisis over rubbish also refuse to accept any major tips in their area.

Civic officers of the 10 communities designated by government decree to host the dumps were meeting Sunday to discuss the issues with Guido Bertolaso, the new government junior minister in charge of rubbish problems.

"We want Guido Bertolaso to provide clarification and above all restore a climate of trust and dialogue and not one of repression," said Nuvoletti.

Berlusconi last weeek ordered the opening of 10 new dumps to be guarded by the army, as part of a package of measures to try to resolve the dispute.

He has warned that the new dumps would be declared military zones and protected as such.

"Blockade actions organised by minorities will not be tolerated," he said. Anyone who violently demonstrated against the new dumps could face jail terms.

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Berlusconi's plan to tackle rubbish crisis hit by protests
Naples, Italy (AFP) May 24, 2008
At least a dozen people were injured Saturday in clashes with police as hundreds of locals resisted plans by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to dump waste in their neighbourhoods.

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