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If you get peeved at your local council not collecting your bins regularly enough, you should try living in Rome.
In the midst of a summer heatwave the bins of the Eternal City are overflowing and doctors have warned that there is now a serious health risk.
It’s not a new problem – the Italian capital was left with no major site to treat the 1.7 million metric tons it produces every year when the Malagrotta landfill was closed in 2013.
But the issue has re-emerged dramatically since Virginia Raggi and the populist Five Star Movement took charge three years ago.
“We’ve become the third, fourth world in my opinion,” said Rome resident Rossana Franza. “Mrs Raggi should take a small stroll here once in a while. Because in her neighbourhood, which I have been to, it is all in order.”
Another resident, who gave her name as Alessia, saw a rat scurry past her the other day. She cannot go outside in the evenings because “there’s an incredible stink”.
The health risk is twofold.
There’s the dogs, cats, rats and birds rooting around in the rubbish, spreading bacterial infections through their waste or urine.
“The main risk for us comes when we take out and throw the trash away,” said Roberto Volpe from the National Research Council.
“There’s a risk of taking the contamination back home with us. That’s why it’s important to wash our hands properly afterwards.”
The other hazard comes from Romans taking the matter into their own hands.
Dr Volpe discouraged angry citizens from setting rubbish piles on fire, warning that dioxin contamination can cause cancer.
Just about the only thing officials can agree on is that a long-term solution is required.
“Let’s be honest… no waste plan can solve a problem aggravated by 60 years of mismanagement in one year,” said Marco Cacciatore, president of the local commission for environmental and city politics in Rome.
“Let’s tell the truth to citizens: we are human. This difficult infrastructural situation cannot be resolved in the short term.”
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