Italy's Berlusconi promises to fix garbage crisis

AP News
Posted: Oct 22, 2010 11:03 AM
Italy's Berlusconi promises to fix garbage crisis

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi promised a swift solution to the latest garbage crisis in southern Italy, saying Friday that the government will take over management of a local dump where angry residents and police have clashed for days, and pledging millions of euros in compensation.

Berlusconi held an emergency meeting in Rome after the clashes in Terzigno, a small town near Naples, where protesters have set vehicles ablaze, burned Italian flags and hurled stones and firecrackers at police. The residents were protesting the stench and poor conditions of the local dump, as well as plans to open a new one in the Vesuvio National Park.

Berlusconi blamed the dump's condition on poor management from a local operator, and said the Civil Protection Department would take over managing the dump. He dispatched the Civil Department chief and disaster czar, Guido Bertolaso, to Naples.

The government was also making euro14 million (about $20 million) available for compensation for residents and new projects in the area, the premier said. He denied any risks to the health of residents.

"We believe the situation can be brought back to normal within 10 days," Berlusconi told reporters after the meeting in Rome.

Naples and surrounding areas have suffered garbage crises for years, the result of corruption, poor management and infiltration by the local mob. Two years ago, Berlusconi intervened to help ease an emergency caused when collectors stopped picking up trash because dumps were full and residents protested new ones.

The Left-wing Paradise of San Francisco
Rachel Alexander

Demonstrators in the latest crisis prevented garbage trucks from unloading at the local dump for days, until heavily escorted garbage trucks managed to reach the dump on Friday morning.

The emergency meeting in Rome gathered the ministers of interior, environment and economics, as well as the Civil Protection and the regional governor.

The government plans more dumps and the construction of incinerators as part of the long-term solution.