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Garbage Day Never Comes for Naples

Corrupt and inconsistent mob-controlled garbage collection in Naples, Italy, has left the city swimming in uncollected trash and with little hope of a resolution.
September 5, 2008, 6am PDT | Nate Berg
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"When you go up against trash here in Campania province, you are going up against a powerful, vicious mafia known as the Camorra. The Naples-based Camorra controls the import, transport and disposal of millions of tons of rubbish, an extremely lucrative business in which the group follows its own rules, ignores regulations on toxic waste and contaminates once-fertile farmland, country fields, forests and rivers."

"Beyond the ugliness of it all, evidence now suggests that the garbage is poisoning the food chain and may be causing cancer, birth defects and other health problems."

"For most of the last year, Campania suffocated under towering mountains of festering, uncollected garbage. Dumps, legal and illegal, were full to overflowing. Until cleanup crews finally made their move in July, seas of trash blocked roads and doorways and swallowed sidewalks and parks. The Camorra periodically paid Gypsy boys to set fire to portions of the waste, creating Dantesque scenes of a land ablaze, villages and towns filled with toxic smoke."

"The blighted condition of southern Italy has earned sanctions from the European Union and condemnation from international health organizations. It ignited violent protests this year and contributed to the downfall of the government of Prime Minister Romano Prodi in the spring."

"This is not a new problem. For more than 15 years, with the government spending more than $2 billion and appointing seven "trash czars," the problem hasn't gone away. It doesn't get fixed because the mafiosi , and politicians in their pocket, don't want it to be."

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Published on Thursday, September 4, 2008 in The Los Angeles Times
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