Doctors issue health warning over Rome trash

Principals say Rome schools may have to close for health reasons.

Doctors say there is "no time to lose" regarding the escalating rubbish crisis in Rome, calling for "all those with responsibility" for the management of waste collection to "sit down and find a solution quickly."

The Rome doctors' guild warned that authorities must act fast to avoid a scenario in which, "in a short time, in the capital of Italy, there will be piles of garbage in every street, near schools, hospitals, and public places, and that such degradation will become attractive to animals."

The doctors' warning was echoed by the Lazio association of principals (ANP) whose president Mario Rusconi said: "We are at the limit, the waste situation is getting worse day by day, and it is all the more serious in front of schools, where our children and young people find heaps of garbage that are a potential vehicle for infections."

Rusconi added that his association does not have the power to close schools independently but that it can call health inspectors to assess situations at individual schools. "I believe that in many cases the conditions exist for precautionary closure" - said Rusconi - "if the city does not act immediately I think it is better to close at this point rather than risk the health of children, who are the most fragile for the risk of epidemics."

The warnings from doctors and school principals came the day after the resignation of the board of Rome's waste collection agency AMA over a clash with the city over a disputed debt of €18 million from the company's 2017 budget.

The board - the fifth to resign in the last three years - stood down after just 100 days, accusing the city council of "inertia and failure to cooperate." Its former president Luisa Melara has since said that the board presented a "clear plan on how to approach the emergency" but added that "the garbage remains on the ground because AMA does not have the facilities to process it."

The city's mayor Virginia Raggi recently blamed private waste facilities for not keeping to a deal, agreed with the Lazio Region and brokered by Italy's environment ministry, requiring them to process Rome's rubbish. The capital is now left with just one waste processing plant, Rocca Cencia, whose conveyer belt broke down recently due to being overloaded.

The so-called "Save Rome" ordinance - authorising the treatment of Rome's undifferentiated waste in various plants around the Lazio region - comes to an end on 15 October.

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Wanted in Rome is a monthly magazine in English for expatriates in Rome established in 1985. The magazine covers Rome news stories that may be of interest to English and Italian speaking residents, and tourists as well. The publication also offers classifieds, photos, information on events, museums, churches, galleries, exhibits, fashion, food, and local travel.
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