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NAPLES, Italy — Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi has appointed a former mob investigator to tackle the trash crisis that has plagued the city and region.

Gianni De Gennaro, former national police chief, took on the role as the region’s “trash czar,” and has four months to devise a plan to ensure similar refuse problems are curbed in the future, according to Italian media reports. Prodi also appointed Italian Gen. Franco Giannini, head of army logistics in the south, as second-in-command.

On Monday, more than 7,000 tons of uncollected garbage still remained throughout the city and its suburbs, according to the ANSA Italian news service, in spite of emergency measures in which officials have shipped about 1,500 tons of trash to islands of Sardinia and Sicily.

The trash crisis in Naples seems to be cyclical, with summer being the worst period, during which it can go uncollected for weeks.

But this fall, when the U.S. Navy noted trash piles did not diminish as they normally do, Navy officials in Naples sought help from the U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Public Health Center, based in Portsmouth, Va., said Lt. Cmdr. Wendy Snyder, a Navy Region Europe spokeswoman. The navy had experienced its own problems in getting rid of garbage on the support site base. For now, those experts are collaborating with Italians, analyzing data from health studies done by Italian health experts, she said.

Residents have taken to burning garbage right on the streets in an effort to clear away some of the rubbish, posing fire threats and possible health risks to toxic fumes.

Leaving it poses other dangers.

Trash piles can serve as a breeding grounds for mosquitoes, rats and mice, the latter of which carry diseases hazardous to humans and animals, such as typhus fever, trichinosis, plague, infectious jaundice, salmonella food infections and rat mite dermatitis, according to a posting on the Web site of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

City sanitation workers have sprayed poison and set traps around the city and suburbs in an effort to curb rodent infestations. They began clearing garbage as quickly as possible once they learned the city could start shipping tons of waste to Sardinia and Sicily, among other locations, said an employee with Naples’ Agency for Energy and Environment, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak with the media.

The trash crisis also has closed Italian schools in suburbs such as Cercola, Melito, Pollena Trocchia and Pianura, according to the daily newspaper Il Napoli.

The Campania regional education director, Alberto Bottino, asked De Gennaro to make clearing rubbish from schools a priority so students can return to class.

Meanwhile Monday, protesters continued to demonstrate and block roads, including major demonstrations on via Scarfoglio in Agnano, which blocked motorists from entering the tangenziale toll-road.

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