Firemen to Hose Naples Garbage

Firefighters in the garbage-strewn city of Naples in Southern Italy will hose down mounds of rubbish littering the streets on New Year’s Eve to prevent revellers and stray fireworks setting them alight.

“There are still around 1400 tons of garbage in the streets, it’s a real fire hazard,” Paolo Giacomelli, the city official in charge of hygiene, told AFP on Wednesday.

“It’s tradition for people to set off fireworks and bangers all across Naples on New Year’s Eve. But we’re worried that sparks could fall onto the mounds of rubbish or people could set them alight on purpose,” he said.

“Teams of firefighters and forest rangers will spray the 200-or-so piles of garbage on Friday evening to hopefully make it less inflammable,” he added.

The city is on a maximum state of alert and officials have also dedicated extra resources to clearing the narrow streets of the city centre.

Uncollected waste has accumulated in the city for weeks, with residents reporting a rise in the numbers of rats, pigeons and seagulls and experts warning of health risks from the rotting rubbish.

Italy faces EU legal action and massive fines failing waste management improvement around Naples amid an ongoing garbage crisis aggravated by the closure of regional dumps after fierce protests from local residents.

The long-running waste 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 the illegal dumping of toxic waste.

The European Commission warned Italy in November that it risked big fines if it fails to implement a the waste management plan, drawn up after the country was found to be in breach of EU legislation in March.

On November 18, Italy passed a decree aimed at speeding up construction of new processing plants and garbage incinerators and earmarked an extra 150 million euros (204 million dollars) of funds for the Campania region.

But despite the government’s previous promises to clean up Naples by Christmas, a solution has yet to be found. Officials from the region are set to meet with representatives from the Environment Ministry in Rome later today.

Should the Commission refer the matter back to the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice for a second time, and should it decide against Italy, the country would face a fine running into millions of euros.

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