EU solution for Athens rubbish

An EU decision to hand over some 200 million euros for the construction of new landfill sites around Athens, made public yesterday, signaled a significant step in solving the capital's spiraling trash problem. The funds pledged by the European Commission will go toward the building of new waste processing plants at Skalistiri in Fyli, Mavro Vouno in Grammatiko and probably Keratea, west of Athens. The money will also be used in the construction of relay stations, for trucks carting away the capital's 6,000-ton daily trash output, in Elaionas, Alimos, Hellinikon and Kifissia. Three quarters of the projects' total cost will be covered by the EU's contribution. It is estimated that the first landfill to be built, in Fyli, will be completed within 18 months - just in time for the closure of the capital's only existing dump, at nearby Ano Liosia. The Ano Liosia site has been involved in a long-running legal wrangle due to complaints by the local council that it receives more trash than it should. Residents have also staged two public protests in the last few weeks against the creation of another waste recycling site in their area. The European Commission has earmarked some 40 million euros for the Fyli project, while the construction of the Mavro Vouno site will draw about 16 million euros from EU funds. A decision on funding for the Keratea site is expected in the next few days. The government last month signed a deal with the Attica regional authority and the association of Attica municipal and local authorities (ESDKNA) on the construction of the new landfills. They agreed that the Fyli site will be built by the regional authority and managed by ESDKNA. This helped secure the EU funding as Brussels had delayed its decision for some 14 months because it did not have confidence in ESDKNA.