Since Christmas, heaping piles of stinking trash greet tourists along the once picturesque streets of Naples. It's a smelly standoff as the trash Maginot line clearly marks the stench of local politics between sneering government bureaucrats with blocked nasal passages and an equally defiant masked mafia. An Italian style garbage duel between the two sides is complete with pitching Hefty bags at ten paces to see who can outlast the other side by scoring a direct hit on the curb - if it was still visible. It is so bad, Italy's government is temporarily turning the police and military into their new garbage collectors. Oink.
A former head of the national police said yes when asked to step in to negotiate the garbage hostage crisis with the local crime cabal and the government. I am Not quite sure, does one italicize Trash Tsar as the latest accomplishment on the résumé? Prior "Rubbish Riots" stopped garbage collection. The European Union is giving Italy until the end of January to clean up, fix the unseemly mess of 110,000 tons of rancid garbage. Rome is aghast that Naples's dirty unmentionables are now on the world stage as the EU finds the public health and environmental issues big enough to call Rome on the red carpet about the maggot spawning piles. The problem is no new landfills were acceptable and the old ones are full.
After more than two weeks of closed dumps and uncollected garbage, noxious fumes permeate the air in the southern coastal city.
Attempts to reopen a long-closed dump in the town of Pianura, near Naples, to alleviate the garbage build-up provoked violent scenes Monday as residents there who oppose the move clashed with police.
Access to incinerators and other dump sites was blocked, causing citizens to take matters into their own hands to get rid of the trash. They burned it. Except burning it means they have no idea what chemicals, poisons or other carcinogens are being released willy-nilly into the air for everyone who is already having a tough time breathing. The added expense is burdening Naples and Rome's treasuries as firefighters get alarm calls by the dozens each hour to extinguish new refuse fires set by desperate citizens.
The situation in Naples has been exacerbated by a blockade of the city's Pianuro refuse site by locals who fear mismanagement at the plant has already allowed the cancer-causing chemicals to be released into the environment.A "waste disposal state of emergency," was first decreed in the Naples region in 1994, and it has been renewed annually ever since.A "waste disposal state of emergency," was first decreed in the Naples region in 1994, and it has been renewed annually ever since.
Fingers are mostly pointed at the Camorra and the crooked politicians in its pay. The crime syndicate is accused of sabotaging new refuge disposal contracts as it seeks to profit to the tune of £2bn a year with its own clandestine trade in waste disposal.
Long-running disputes have seen refuse processing sites closed or blockaded. While over £1bn set aside for the construction of new ones has mysteriously vanished. Those that have been built have not worked properly.
Afflicting every nation on earth is the expanding of trash as populations multiply. Italy's issue is further complicated by economic hostage taking by the local mafioso that relies on the government that has paid the ransom in the past. Find out more, a ton more, about a real environmental crisis in Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash, from Elizabeth Royte, with a perspective from America's full landfills and teeming pile from other nations.