Most landfills lack firebreaks

Most of Greece’s municipal rubbish dumps, nearly half of which are illegal, lack even elementary fire safety measures, the government conceded yesterday, promising drastic action to remedy the situation before the summer. According to Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis, who presented government plans to address the perennial problem of forest fires, some 59 percent of municipal rubbish dumps are situated on the edge of forests. Between 1986 and 1997, some 32,400 hectares of forestland was destroyed by fires that started in landfills which, in the summer, often catch fire and burn out of control for days. Some 45 percent of the landfills are illegal. Skandalidis said 67 percent of Greece’s 1,334 rubbish dumps do not even have firebreaks. He promised to give 18.5 million euros to local authorities for fire safety measures at rubbish dumps, adding that some 5,500 new seasonal firemen will be hired by the summer, as well as 1,020 workers who will open firebreaks around landfills and clear forests of dead brush.

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