Tag Archives: naples garbage crisis

Skyrockets and burning garbage

Anthony M. Quattrone

Fire spreads from garbage to a car during New Year's celebration in Naples. Photo from "Il Mattino" (http://www.ilmattino.it/articolo.php?id=132772&sez=NAPOLI 1 Jan 2011).

Neapolitans celebrated the arrival of the new year by chaotically and haphazardly exploding thousands of skyrockets and other fireworks. Like every year, during the time frame from midnight to about two hours later, Naples was an undeclared “off-limits” area for pedestrians and cars alike. During this time, the chances of being hit by skyrockets or by stray bullets is considered critically high. This year, the piles of uncollected garbage, spread throughout most of the city and the suburbs, became a tempting target for occasional arsonists. By dawn of the first day of the year, the authorities reported that the “midnight battle” had claimed one death and seventy injured. A 39-year old died from wounds caused by a stray bullet in Crispano, a town in the province of Naples. A 29-year old tourist was hit by a stray bullet in his face, but he miraculously survived the injury, expelling the bullet stuck in his nose with a sneeze. A boiler exploded in Volla, a in the province of Naples, destroying a building and injuring two persons. Many others suffered severe burns, lost limbs or lost an eye.

Authorities had enrolled the support of soccer players, musicians, and actors, to plead the citizenry to not explode illegal fireworks. Firemen spent part of the evening of the 31 December watering down the piles of garbage in downtown Naples hoping to reduce the chances that stray rockets would dangerously ignite the waste. In spite of the preventive work done by the fire department and the continuous appeals by the authorities, garbage caught fire in many parts of the city. The burning garbage set off fires that spread to parked cars and, in a couple of cases, also to buildings.

Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi had promised during the past several months, on several occasions, to rid Naples of garbage, but he failed to keep his promises. The last time, immediately after Christmas, he had promised that Naples would have been clean by New Year’s eve. By midnight some parts of the city and the suburbs were clean, thanks to the praiseworthy work performed by the Italian Army, who had been deployed to collect thousands of tons of garbage in the downtown area and in the suburbs. Naples mayor Rosa Russo Iervolino, publicly thanked the Army for their work, noting that only through the cooperation of all institutions, from local to national, it is possible for Naples to climb out of the garbage crisis.

According to councilman Giovanni Romano, who is responsible for Regional environmental services, “the waste collection plants have worked well during the night and by now the city should be rid of garbage.” Garbage collection started up immediately after the midnight celebrations and the waste plants and dumping grounds have been open since 3 A.M. Romano speculates that Naples and suburbs should be clean within the next ten to twelve days. Time will tell if Romano’s assessment is correct. In the meantime, the burning garbage is still smoking in many parts of the city.

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Where has all the garbage gone?

Anthony M. Quattrone

Ferrandelle landfill (photo "La Repubblica" 13 May 2009, Naples Edition)

Where has all the garbage gone? This is the question that many in Naples are asking.

The crisis that overtook the city and many parts of the Campania Region between the summers of 2006 and 2008 seems to have been miraculously resolved with the change in government in May 2008, when the center-right coalition headed by Silvio Berlusconi replaced Romano Prodi’s ailing center-left administration. Berlusconi had promised the electorate that, if elected, he would have resolved the region’s waste disposal crisis as a matter of national emergency, linking the worldwide negative press, with front page photos of Naples submerged in garbage, to potential economic repercussions on the whole of the “Italy system”, ranging from tourism to products “made in Italy”.

There is no doubt that Berlusconi has successfully freed the streets of Naples from mountains of garbage, which up to now, with very few exceptions, have not returned. There is also no doubt that his success in removing garbage from the sights of the citizenry has been instrumental in leading the center-right coalition to win three major elections held over the past year in Naples and Campania. In May 2008, Berlusconi’s coalition won a majority of seats in Campania for the European Parliament, and placed Luigi Cesaro to head the provincial government of Naples. Last March, Berlusconi’s coalition, supported by the Union of Democrats of the Center, successfully won the elections, leading Stefano Caldoro to replace Antonio Bassolino as governor of the Campania Region. Bassolino has been blamed by the media as the principal politician responsible for the garbage crisis in Campania.

Has Berlusconi solved the problem? If yes, is it solved on a permanent basis? If yes, is it solved in a legally sustainable basis? These questions are surfacing in a series of investigate reports by local and national journalists. Read the whole article

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