Athens soon to get trash disposal scheme

Recycling at the source, recycling plants and waste transfer stations (WTSs) are essential in the efficient and more economic treatment of the garbage problem and are the subject of a new bill being brought in by the Ministry of Public Works, Planning and the Environment (YPEHODE). The bill, which will be tabled in Parliament by the end of the month, comes after years of delay and in the nick of time to introduce recycling at source and determine landfill and waste transfer sites. Officials believe that a fully and correctly implemented system could reduce the total volume of garbage needing to be dumped in landfills by 20 percent. Studies so far (the last one was conducted by the Environmental Engineers Department of the Technical University of Crete (TUC) and handed over in the second week of May to the Union of Municipal Authorities in Attica, ESDKNA) refer to two factors: First, an operative WTS network will result in savings of 35 million euros for local authorities, just from the labor used in collection. This amounts to 9 million euros a year for the municipality of Athens alone. Second, overall mileage per vehicle taking garbage to dumps will be reduced by over 30 percent. Whereas garbage trucks from Athens municipality now take an average 94 minutes to make a return trip to the landfill, they will need a mere 29 minutes to reach a WTS. In Attica nowadays, there are 15 WTSs in addition to the large facility at Schistos that serves around 20 municipalities. Nevertheless, some are due for closure, either because they border the Mt Hymettus protection zone, have limited capacity or lack the necessary equipment. In addition, none of the WTSs have been properly planned, with the exception of Schistos. The last study, by the TUC, which will determine WTS sites, examined 29 locations, of which 14 emerged as crucial to improving efficiency and were also feasible from a land use point of view. Athens prefecture For the Athens prefecture, it proposed: 1. Hellenikon-Alimos or Glyfada A local WTS at the edge of the old airport that has been in use since 2001 is deemed capable of expansion, or could even be transferred into the area covered by the old airport, which falls under the jurisdiction of Hellenikon municipality. The site, the study emphasizes, is at a reasonable distance from residential areas and has easy access to central highways. Alternatively, a Glyfada site which has housed a transfer point since 1997 is a possibility. 2. Kifissia or Hamomilio industrial park Lying where the Maroussi, Pefki and Neo Iraklion municipalities meet, a WTS is mooted for a landholding near the junction of Attiki Odos and Kymis Avenue. But residents are up in arms, citing its proximity to housing. Neither the Organization of Athens nor the ESDKNA held out hope for land being available for a WTS, thus the Hamomilio industrial park was suggested as an alternative. 3. Elaionas The site, which has already received planning approval, lies on Public Power Corporation land, near the junction of Petrou Ralli and Kifissou avenues. Set to cover two hectares, the work is already up for tender. 4. Goudi Two sites have been found at Goudi, one a 20-hectare piece of land owned by the Athens municipality’s parks directorate. But the area has been earmarked as a pan-municipal park, which so far has blocked planning approval for a WTS. However, when ESDKNA sounded out the municipality, the latter was willing to give up the area. Another possibility, at the Kaisariani junction of the Western Hymettus Peripheral Highway, was until recently a concrete factory. But the site lies within the Hymettus Second Protection Zone. 5. Prompona industrial park The study group found a suitable site for a WTS at the Prompona industrial park, bordering the Athens municipality, which can serve both the municipality’s northwestern areas and surrounding municipalities. The area, which is full of derelict factories, contains a possible WTS in the shape of a 1960s textile mill at the edge of the Second Cemetery, near the electric railway station of Ano Patissia. It is considered a highly convenient location. For western Attica, the sites proposed are: 1. Vilia A WTS has been functioning at the municipal depot of Vilia since 1997, and serves both Erythres and Oinoe in Viotia. The study deems it a suitable site. 2. Megara – N. Peramos Though a site has not been found, no difficulties are expected. These two WTSs are reckoned sufficient to meet the needs of all of Western Attica. For the Piraeus prefecture, the study proposes: 1. Schistos Since 1991 a central WTS has been in operation on a planned site of 3 hectares, at Perama. Of these, 2 hectares are roofed-in areas, and another 1.25 hectares are green spaces. The rest is covered by a service road network and car park. The WTS serves over 20 municipalities in addition to that of Piraeus. 2. Salamis A WTS has operated on the island since 1996, 8 kilometers (5 miles) outside Batsi. A suitable location, its operation will likely be extended. 3. Aegina A WTS has been in operation since 1995, a little outside the island’s main town. The location is deemed suitable by the study. Eastern Attica Four sites have been proposed for the prefecture of Eastern Attica: 1. Nea Makri A WTS has been in operation at the municipal vehicles’ depot since 1992. But it is near the resort and on forestland. Given that there appears to be no alternative location and that a WTS is thought essential for the area, the study proposes efforts to legalize the site. 2. Rafina A WTS has been in operation on the outskirts of the town since 1992, with the same problems as the one at Nea Makri. The study suggests the same solution. 3. Voula – Vari In the Vari district of Panorama, a WTS has been in operation since 1996. As it is on forestland, planning approval is unlikely. Another site is being sought in the Vari or Voula municipalities, in an abandoned quarry. 4. Gerakas The WTS on the edge of town has been closed. The Organization of Athens is targeting the local industrial park as a possible site.