ROME – The European Commission warned Italy on Saturday it may face sanctions if it doesn’t remove the 2,400 tons of trash that have piled up in the streets of Naples in the country’s latest garbage crisis.

For over a week, protesters in Terzigno, a small town near Naples, have torched vehicles, burned Italian flags and hurled stones at police to protest the stench and filth at a local dump and plans to open a new one in Vesuvio National Park.

Clashes continued overnight and residents around Naples set fire to heaps of trash. The situation around Terzigno was calm Saturday, but protesters did occupy a train station for a few hours, news reports said.

Pope Benedict XVI chimed in Saturday with words of support for residents, saying he was spiritually close to them and was praying for a “fair and mutually-agreed upon solution to the problem,” according to a message received by the local diocese.

European Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik said the violence between residents and police over where to dump Naples’ waste showed that Italy hasn’t taken sufficient measures since the last garbage crisis flared in 2007.

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi has promised a swift solution to the mess, saying the government will take over management of the dump and pledging $20 million in compensation to residents.

Naples and surrounding areas have suffered garbage crises for years, the result of corruption, poor management and infiltration by the local mob. Three years ago, Berlusconi intervened to help ease an emergency caused when collectors stopped picking up trash because dumps were full and residents were protesting the creation of new ones.

In March, the European Court of Justice found that Italy was in breach of EU rules for having failed to set up sufficient waste disposal infrastructure.