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Serious Health Risk In Naples Area As Garbage System Backs Up

An inhabitant with her daughter passes by trash piled up in Quarto, a commune in the province of Naples. An overloaded garbage handling system is posing a "serious health risk" in the Naples area where 15,000 tonnes of waste is awaiting treatment, a government spokeswoman said. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Rome (AFP) May 23, 2007
An overloaded garbage handling system is posing a "serious health risk" in the Naples area where 15,000 tonnes of waste is awaiting treatment, a government spokeswoman said Wednesday. "There's a serious health risk," Ilaria Proietti told AFP. "It's a total exaggeration to talk about the threat of cholera, but the proliferation of rats, mice and other rodents ... could cause diseases."

The two-week-old crisis has seen some 15,000 tonnes of waste accumulate along roads in the southern province, including nearly 3,000 tonnes in Naples itself, because of a logjam at overstretched treatment and recycling centres, said Proietti, spokeswoman for an extraordinary commission assigned to the longstanding regional problem.

Despite appeals not to burn the trash to prevent the release of toxic substances such as dioxin into the air, hundreds of voluntary fires are keeping firefighters busy round the clock.

The chronic problem is the result of a lack of space in existing dumps, some of which have been closed by legal injunctions after their operations were taken over by organised crime, dubbed the "ecomafia".

The problem is complicated by inadequate recycling infrastructure.

A May 10 decree by the centre-left government creating four new dumps -- fiercely opposed by people living nearby -- will not come into effect for several weeks.

Mountains of garbage in the streets of Frattamaggiore, a town of some 30,000 north of Naples, prompted its mayor to close schools from Wednesday until further notice.

The head of an association of hotel managers in Naples, Pasquale Gentile, said reservations were down as the high tourist season approaches.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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