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Troops wade into garbage crisis

  • Story Highlights
  • Prime Minister Romano Prodi makes police appointment to solve trash crisis
  • City collectors in Naples region halted work as garbage dumps are now full
  • Attempts to reopen a long-closed dump near Naples provoked violence Monday
  • Problems with Naples' garbage have been around in some form for 14 years
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ROME, Italy (CNN) -- The police and military will joins forces in Naples to deal with a garbage crisis that has led to mountains of trash piling up across the city, the Italian prime minister said Tuesday.

Italian leader Romano Prodi said at a news conference in Rome he is appointing the former head of the Italian police to work alongside the military to solve the crisis.

After more than two weeks of closed dumps and uncollected garbage, noxious fumes permeate the air in the southern coastal city.

Attempts to reopen a long-closed dump in the town of Pianura, near Naples, to alleviate the garbage build-up provoked violent scenes Monday as residents there who oppose the move clashed with police.

Italian media reported that a television crew from the state broadcaster RAI was attacked and their equipment was stolen by masked protesters near the Pianura landfill overnight Monday.

Prodi said Tuesday he is sending in the military to clean up the areas where the crisis is most serious.

He announced the appointment of Gianni de Gennaro, a former chief of the national police, who was being brought in to oversee the operation. De Gennaro will work alongside an army chief, Gen. Franco Giannini, and his appointment will last for four months, Prodi said.

The Italian leader said that several dumping sites will be reopened, including the Pianura dump that shut down 14 years ago because of health concerns.

The latest problems began December 31, when the government closed one of the area's two working dumps at the request of nearby residents.

Bags of rotting, uncollected waste now line city streets and sit in alleys beneath residential apartment blocks.

Problems with Naples' garbage have been around in some form for 14 years, when Italian authorities first declared the situation an emergency.

Complicating the issue is the involvement of local mafia, which has long controlled the region's waste business.

Under the new measures announced Tuesday, local authorities will have 120 days to organize their own waste disposal or face the prospect of government intervention, meaning they would lose control of the lucrative business of garbage collection.

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Prodi said de Gennaro's team will address the "long-term" causes of the garbage crisis. Italian media has speculated that this means breaking the mafia's stranglehold of the waste-disposal business.

Prodi said that new incinerators will be built and some existing sites enlarged. He said the government's intervention is only temporary, and is aimed at ensuring that local councils in the region become more self-reliant. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Alessio Vinci and Hada Messia in Rome contributedto this report

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