Protests over trash in Naples

Police clashed with citizens opposing the use of a rubbish dump as hundreds of tons of waste piled up on Naples’s streets Friday, three years after a trash crisis hit the southern Italian city.

A strike by refuse collectors fearing that their temporary contracts will not be renewed overlapped over the past few days with a protest by the citizens of Terzignano, a town south of Naples, who oppose the use of a rubbish dump near their homes and the opening of a new one in the area.

Tensions escalated late on Thursday and into the early morning on Friday as for the third night in a row, a group of more than 2,000 protesters tried to stop the passage of garbage trucks heading towards the dump.

Police tear-gassed protesters who hit back by throwing stones, an AFP photographer reported.

“For the fist time there was a physical confrontation between police and protesters,” the press office of Naples’ police told AFP, adding that one policeman was lightly injured in the clash.

Over the past few days, protesters had damaged garbage trucks, “shattering windows or slashing tires after making drivers get out,” police said.

The Naples area was under a “waste disposal state of emergency” from 1994 until late last year.

In 2007, Naples came under the international spotlight after tens of thousands tons of rotting rubbish accumulated in the city’s streets.

In March, Europe’s highest court slammed Italy for its failure to clean up rubbish during that crisis, causing “danger to human health and damage to the environment.”

The long-running issue has been blamed on a lack of local incinerators, and landfill sites controlled by the local mafia, the Camorra, some of which were used for illegal dumping of toxic waste.

A new incinerator opened in the area in March 2009.

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