Reuters International

ROME (Reuters) - Italy's anti-corruption authority is investigating Rome's public rubbish management agency as concerns grow that waste problems plaguing the capital could turn critical.

A spokesman for the ANAC authority confirmed a preliminary investigation, reported by Italian news agency ANSA on Thursday, had begun but could give no details.

Rome has struggled for years to manage its rubbish, and municipal waste manager AMA - blighted by a record of high absenteeism among its workers, inefficiency and links to alleged corruption - has often been blamed.

Waste has built up in the streets in recent weeks, in some places turned into stinking piles by the summer heat, despite Romans having to pay one of Italy's highest municipal waste taxes.

AMA's former chief executive is one of dozens accused of corruption in an ongoing case against officials and mobsters who allegedly teamed up to rig public tenders.

No one at AMA's media office could immediately be reached for comment.

"The situation right now is very difficult, with extreme conditions in all neighbourhoods of the city," Environment Minister Gian Luca Galletti, a centrist who supports Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's coalition government, told parliament on Wednesday.

The city's newly-installed mayor, Virginia Raggi of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, played on exasperation with corruption and poor services to win Romans' votes in June.

Overhauling AMA was among the plans Raggi unveiled at city hall this week. She said it had some 600 million euros ($668 million) of debts, high industrial costs and low efficiency.

Galletti said Rome urgently needed to build new waste treatment plants and called on Raggi and the president of the Lazio region around Rome to take action.

($1 = 0.8975 euros)

(Reporting by Isla Binnie; editing by John Stonestreet)

reuters_tickers

 Reuters International