EU Sues Italy Over Garbage

BRUSSELS -- The European Union's executive commission began legal action against Italy on Tuesday over the festering garbage collection crisis in Naples.

More than 250,000 tons of trash has piled up on the streets of the southern Italian city since collection came to a near halt in December because there is no more room for the trash at dumps.

The European Commission said it was taking Italy to the European Court of Justice because Naples and the Campania region have not obeyed EU rules that require governments to pick up garbage and dispose of it safely.

"The piles of uncollected rubbish in the streets of Campania graphically illustrate the threat to the environment and human health that results when waste management is inadequate," the EU said.

It also sent Italy a written warning for failing to comply with an earlier court ruling that found the Lazio region around Rome disobeyed EU rules because it did not have a regional waste management plan. The court can fine Italy if it does not fall into line.

Although Italy has moved to clear rubbish from the streets in Naples and the Campania region, the EU said this did not go far enough to tackle long-term waste problems and prevent "a repeat of the unacceptable events seen over the past year."

It said Campania was still far from setting up an effective waste management system.