For months now, there’s been no end to the news stories with the words “Naples” and “garbage” in the same sentence, and it’s not like a garbage crisis in Naples is something that’s never happened before this year. Still, it seems to be dominating the news coming out of Italy lately, and although it looked like the new prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was moving in the right direction to draw attention to and therefore help solve the problem, the latest news feels like a case of one step forward, seven steps back.
Berlusconi had made the campaign pledge to hold his new government’s first cabinet meeting in Naples instead of Rome in order to highlight the trash problem facing this southern Italian city. Rather than highlighting it, however, it appears that the arrival of the newly minted government led to a massive last-minute clean-up effort by the local garbage companies, who swept the route the cabinet would be taking into town free of garbage.
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Primarily, the issue that’s on the most people’s minds in Naples is the garbage – it’s been piling up all over the city and outside the city for months now, and in many cases residents have resorted to burning the trash piles, releasing potentially toxic fumes into the air. But even when the garbage isn’t burning, it’s still creating health and environmental concerns, as who-knows-what is seeping into the ground and water.
While some have called for the creation of new garbage dumps or the re-opening of dumps closed long ago (ironically, they were closed for health reasons), many residents have protested both of these options – some to the point of getting in semi-violent clashes with police. What’s more, the European Union has finally resorted to suing the Italian government to get them to deal with the garbage issue.
The Naples garbage issue is one that’s been brewing for years, with conspiracy theorists claiming that the Naples Mafia runs all the garbage companies and therefore nothing will change, but it looks like things may finally have to come to head sometime soon. Even if recent protests weren’t enough to get the government to step in, the EU lawsuit should be. Let’s hope it is.
For more information on this admittedly complicated topic:
European Commission Sues to Force Italy to Take Out the Garbage
In Italy, a Billionaire Takes Out Trash
Berlusconi’s plan to tackle rubbish crisis hit by protests
Rubbish Demonstrators Clash with Police in Naples
Firefighters Battle Naples Rubbish Blazes
Naples Garbage Still Rots, Raises Health Concerns
Naples Rubbish Crisis Sparks Health Fears