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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Italy’s Trash Crisis again and again

Beautiful Italy again under fire. And very rightfully so. Because mafia or not, trash is trash and should be thrown out. But not literally out. Like in Italy. I very much sympathize Italy, because for some reasons Sofia was under tons of trashes a year ago. The problem was solved by opening the already full dump, but it's not really solved, as they are no new dumps and no incineration factory being built. So, the crisis was just postponed while our mayor becomes a prime-minister and then he'll probably just make it illegal to close a dump when there isn't a new one and everything will settle. So, talking about mafia, huh? I wish Italia luck! It's such a shame that beautiful country to be buried under garbage. And I hope EC manage to make them act.

Italy taken to court over 'inadequate' waste plans

7 May 2008

Measures taken to address the waste crisis in the Naples region are "inadequate" and are putting citizens' health at risk, the European Commission claims.

Italy is being taken to the European Court of Justice for failing to put in place waste collection and treatment plans in the Campania region as required under the EU's Waste Framework Directive, the Commission announced on Tuesday (6 May).

"The piles of uncollected rubbish in the streets of Campania graphically illustrate the threat to the environment and human health that results when waste management is inadequate," said EU Environment Minister Stavros Dimas.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also reported growing health problems in the region due to improper handling and incineration of waste.

Waste crises are not new to Campania, where waste disposal is a lucrative business controlled largely by the 'Camorra' mafia.

The crisis has eased recently since the appointment of a new 'Waste Emergency Commissioner' for the region in December 2007, the Commission said. However, it believes the measures introduced "are inadequate to address Campania's waste problems in the long term and prevent a repeat of the unacceptable events seen over the past year."

Italian authorities have failed to give "a clear timetable for the completion and entry into operation of the sorting plants, landfills, incinerators and other infrastructure needed to resolve the region's waste problems," the Commission added.

The waste crisis in Naples "is not a crisis coming out of the blue," Dimas insisted at a Parliament hearing in January. "It is the culmination of a more than 14-year-old process of insufficient implementation of European waste legislation for which Italy has repeatedly been condemned by the European Court of Justice."

In a related case, the European Commission sent a warning to the Lazio region on Tuesady (6 May) for failing to adopt regional waste management plans. Fines could be slapped on the region if it does not comply, the Commission warned. source

European Commission Sues to Force Italy to Take Out the Garbage

Published: May 7, 2008

After years of warnings, and a spell of hot weather that did nothing to improve the stink of tons of uncollected trash around Naples, the European Commission filed suit against Italy on Tuesday, charging that it had failed to meet its obligation to collect and dispose of its rubbish.

“The piles of uncollected rubbish in the streets of Campania graphically illustrate the threat to the environment and human health that results when waste management is inadequate,” Stavros Dimas, the European Union’s environment commissioner, said in Brussels, referring to the southern region around Naples. “Italy needs to give priority to putting in place effective waste management plans.”

The suit, filed before the European Court of Justice, is aimed at pressing Italy to take more serious action against a problem that has enraged southerners, embarrassed national pride and influenced recent national elections. If the court rules against it, Italy could face substantial fines, more than a dozen years after Naples faced the first of its regular trash crises.

During the campaign for an election he won last month, the prime minister-elect, Silvio Berlusconi, repeatedly promised to finally clean up the mess — and the court case may prove an early challenge to his new center-right government. To show his determination, Mr. Berlusconi, about to begin his third term as prime minister, has said he will hold his first cabinet meeting in Naples and visit three times a week until the crisis is resolved.

But, over many years, the problem has been difficult to tackle, in part because politicians have been reluctant to take on the organized-crime groups that have dumped refuse — some of it toxic — for many years.

Amid protests and protection by local politicians, the nation has also had trouble choosing where to create new dumps as old ones filled up. All the dumps around Naples are now officially considered full.

Over the weekend, temperatures rose and local residents, as they often have, set fire to dozens of piles of trash, as both a protest and a way to banish stink and possible threats to health. A reported 1,400 tons of trash lay uncollected, from a high of 4,500 tons in March. Last year, schools closed and firefighters fought hundreds of fires in a similar crisis.

The European Commission also demanded that the region of Lazio, which surrounds Rome, comply with an earlier court order requiring it to adhere to a waste management plan.

The trash crisis is one of several serious problems, ignored for years by Italy’s paralyzed political class, that are worsening as well as bumping up against European regulations. One issue is Italy’s high public debt, over the European Union ceiling of 3 percent of gross domestic product.

European regulators are also questioning a proposed bailout of 300 million euros, about $465 million, for the nation’s ailing airline, Alitalia, as possibly illegal state assistance. Italy has until May 19 to justify the loan. For years, various deals to buy the airline, teetering into bankruptcy, have failed. source

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