The Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad reports that the Napels garbage crisis is half solved. That is, trash is being collected in the city itself, after months when household waste simply accumulated in the streets. Hotels are welcoming tourists once again.
A provisional landfill has been opened–”provisional” presumably meaning that it is not properly engineered to contain contaminants. Some trash is being sent to Germany, after being separated locally. An incinerator is under construction and might start to make short shrift with Naples’ municipal produce in a year and a half.
But in the suburbs the accumulated trash from earlier months lines the streets. In the dark hours of the night, garbage trucks still dump toxic industrial waste from northern Italy and other parts of Europe among the buffalo farms and apricot orchards, as they have been doing for 25 years. But not to worry. Government inspections certify the mozzarella as within allowable dioxin limits. Buon appetito!
Update: March 26, 2008 — As you might expect, the more we hear about the toxic waste abutting the buffalo farms from whence emerges our mozzarella, the less appealing the notion of ingesting such a delicate puffball of snow-white cheese. In recent months, the New York Times reports, the sale of mozzarella has declined by 40%, and inspections have in fact turned up some cheese exceeding the dioxin level considered acceptable by the Italian government, whatever that might be. The author of the NYT article speculates that the politicians might finally act to clean up Campania under pressure of falling mozzarella sales. The world is a very strange place–who would have guessed it was possible to force a little bit of change by spurning the caprese salad?
Update: May 9, 2008 - The European Union is sueing Italy over its garbage practices, charging that the country “had failed to meet its obligations to collect and dispose of its rubbish,” as the New York Times put it. Meanwhile, the temperatures are rising and the smell is getting worse all over Campania. People have started setting the accumulating piles ablaze in recent weeks, out of protest and to try to reduce the public health threat posed by festering waste all over the streets in gigantic piles.
Update: May 25, 2008 – A few days ago, the papers reported that Berlusconi, newly re-installed at the helm of the Italian sort-of-government, has announced that he is really going to get tough on the garbage crisis and illegal immigration. Interesting combination of priorities, no? Even more interesting is his proposed solution: use the army to squash all protests against the siting of new garbage facilities. It’s not news that Berlusconi is a fascist, but I don’t know that he has displayed his colors in such an effective single brush stroke before.