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European edition, Thursday, May 31, 2007

NAPLES, Italy — Naples is like a beautiful woman with dirty feet — just don’t look down, said 19-year-old Dwight Johnson, citing a popular saying.

It’s never truer than now, as Naples area residents wade through yet another garbage crisis — in some spots, quite literally.

With landfills brimming, thousands of tons of uncollected trash again have piled up in and around the city, with billowing, putrid bags and loose refuse spilling from receptacles that clog sidewalks and roadways.

“It’s horrible,” said Johnson, a college student studying business and Italian at the U.S. Navy base here. “It smells bad and looks bad and it’s destroying a beautiful city.”

For now, that’s all happening outside of the U.S. naval base gates.

Unlike a similar trash crisis that hit the region in October, this time U.S. Navy base officials mitigated the problem by keeping up a steady collection cycle of garbage, working to keep at bay a repeat of the fall calamity of refuse spilling out of bins on the support site housing complex at Gricignano.

The mayor of Gricignano temporarily opened a local dump that serves as a “staging area” for collected garbage in the area until a solution for other dump sites is resolved, said housing director Linda Crusing.

“Housing is doing everything they can to control, as best we can, to keep trash accumulation to a minimum here at the support site,” she said. “For the most part, we have been fairly successful.”

Residents are asked to recycle everything possible, such as plastics, paper and glass.

The housing office also is working with landlords and local representatives for those residents who live in one of the three government-leased off-base housing complexes, called parcos.

“Sometimes, we are more successful than others,” Crusing said. “This is not something most local authorities can control but are under a higher authority for trash collection and recycling.”

The garbage crisis again struck the entire Campania region, about the size of the state of Illinois. Some quick fixes in the past have included hauling Campania’s garbage as far south as Sicily’s landfills, and north to Germany to be incinerated.

Local residents repeatedly have voted down referenda to build new landfills in the region or build an incinerator. Instead, they’ve taken to burning trash right in the streets, which emits noxious fumes and has kept fire departments busy extinguishing trash blazes.

Italian news reported Monday that Italian and Romanian officials were negotiating to have some of Campania’s garbage hauled to Romania.

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