Berlusconi: Naples waste crisis over

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi last week declared that the waste crisis that has plagued Naples for months is over.

Visiting the town on Friday, he said the piles of rotting garbage that had filled the streets were gone but a permanent solution to the problem of the area’s waste could take several years.

According to an official statement released on Friday, police have also seized eight mafia-controlled landfill sites and charged 17 suspects with environmental damage, illegal waste trafficking and criminal association with the mafia.

The crisis first began in spring last year when piles of rubbish were left uncollected in the streets of Naples and the surrounding region of Campania, leading some frustrated residents to set fire to the waste. The problem was repeated in the winter.

As a result, the European Commission issued legal proceedings against Berlusconi’s government – a move which could lead to heavy fines.

The crisis has been blamed on a lack of local incinerators, and on landfill sites controlled by the local mafia. Official dumps were declared full late last year.

According to reports from the country, Berlusconi warned in a speech in Rome that it would still take time to provide a lasting solution to Naples’ waste disposal problems.

“The complete industrial treatment of rubbish will be ready in about three years, which is the time needed to build the four incinerators required,” he said.

“This crisis has harmed the people of Naples and the Campania region and the Italian people, as well as our tourism industry and exports,” he added.

However, photographs have since emerged in the world’s press suggesting that the rubbish had simply been moved to the suburbs ahead of Berlusconi’s visit to the town, where he also held a Cabinet meeting.

Kate Martin

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