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Europe

Italy faces massive fines for garbage cleanup failure

As confrontations continue between Italian police and protestors of the deteriorating garbage situation in Naples, the European Commission has threatened potential legal action against Italy for violating European law.

Police clash with protestors

Protestors have been clashing with police over the trash

The European Commission is considering legal action against Italy for its failure to clean up the 2,000 tons of garbage that are littering the streets of Naples

Janez Potocnik, commissioner for the environment, said in a statement that the European Union's executive arm was considering sending a team of analysts to asses whether Italy was still in breach of EU legislation requiring waste disposal to protect human health and the environment.

"I am worried by what has been happening in Campania in recent days," he said. "Today's situation leads us to believe that measures taken by Italian authorities since 2007 are insufficient."

He added that the violent clashes between residents and police over where to deposit Naples' trash show that "Italian authorities have not yet done what is needed." He cited as proof that Campania still had no waste management and that the region's only incinerator "is not functioning properly and at full capacity."

For more than a week people in Naples have burned cars and Italian flags and have thrown stones and firecrackers at police to protest the stench and poor conditions of their local landfill, as well as plans to build a new one in Vesuvio National Park. Clashes continued through Friday night but had subsided on Saturday.

The European Court of Justice found last March that Italy's failure to clean up Naples' streets was in violation of EU legislation. If the European Commission refers the matter back to the court, and if Italy is found to still be in breach of the law, it could face millions of euros in fines.

Author: Andrew Bowen (AFP, AP)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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