Clashes intensify in Naples over garbage plans
Organized crime, foul smells and inefficiency have marked garbage collection in the past.
Thu, Oct 21, 2010 at 07:44 AM
TRASH CLASH: Local residents oppose the opening of a second dump site near Vesuvius National Park. (Photo: Salvatore Laporta/AP)
Protesters threw firecrackers and stones and set a police car alight during violent clashes in Naples in the early hours of Thursday over a new waste dump aimed at easing the city's problems with garbage disposal.
Police used teargas to disperse several hundred protesters in overnight clashes near a waste treatment center at Terzigno, and briefly stopped and identified two people, following several arrests earlier in the week.
But tension in the city escalated again on Thursday, as a group of protesters smashed up shop windows with clubs, news agencies reported.
Intensifying street protests are the latest episode in a chronic scandal over garbage collection in the region which has resurfaced in recent weeks, prompting growing calls for action from Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Police in Naples are also on high alert after two Liverpool fans were injured overnight in clashes ahead of Thursday's Europa League soccer game with Napoli.
Organized crime interests have been deeply entwined with garbage collection in Naples for many years but the problem has been compounded by inefficiency, political opportunism and cheap, sometimes shady business operators.
Local people complain of foul smells and possible health risks from toxic waste at the Terzigno site, which authorities say is needed to handle the mountains of garbage produced in Naples every day.
Plans to open a new dump nearby have rekindled protests, forcing garbage trucks to operate under police protection in recent weeks after a number were attacked by firebombs.
Hundreds of tons of refuse lie uncollected on the streets in the area around the southern city, Italy's third biggest, with the Terzigno site often blocked by protesters and an incinerator facility operating at reduced capacity.
The mayor of Naples, Rosa Russo Iervolino has appealed for help from the central government in dealing with the crisis, saying there is not only a risk to public health but also a threat to public order.
(Writing by Catherine Hornby; editing by Philippa Fletcher)
Copyright 2010 Reuters Environmental Online Report