Battle lines drawn over new landfills

Residents of parts of eastern and western Attica earmarked to host six new waste management sites were meeting late into the night to decide on protest action, while residents near the existing, saturated landfill at Ano Liosia are planning to block Fylis Avenue, a major thoroughfare in Western Attica, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. today. Following the first protest by residents of Polydendri and Kapandriti on Sunday, which led to the blocking of the Athens-Thessaloniki highway and scuffles with riot police, prosecutor Dimitris Asprogerakas yesterday charged eight people with obstruction of traffic and resisting authority. The eight, who include Polydendri Mayor Athanassios Sarkiris and Kapandriti Deputy Mayor Dimitris Veltaniotis, were released pending trial. The government appears determined to push ahead with the creation of new landfills and related facilities, as the old dump at Ano Liosia is full to capacity. Environment Minister Vasso Papandreou presented the legislation setting out the new sites late on Friday night. The ministry says that environmental impact studies will be completed by August, which will allow work to go ahead. But the summer heat is not likely to mute the protests. The sites named in the legislation are at Grammatiko and Polydendri in northeastern Attica, Koropi and Keratea in southeastern Attica and Fyli, Mandra and Ano Liosia in western Attica. Waste transfer stations are to be built at Hellenikon-Alimos, Glyfada, Kifissia, Hamomili, Goudi, Kaisariani, Elaionas and Schisto (which is already functioning). At a news conference yesterday, Papandreou stressed that for her the government’s decision was final. She also rejected claims by experts that the landfills would damage the environment. «All the academics who today say that the sites are not suitable, never busied themselves with the consequences of illegal landfills… from which 192 tons of liquid waste enters Attica’s water table annually.» She described the opposition of the regions’ mayors as hypocritical and pointed out a general problem. «We cannot keep creating waste without managing it. It does not make us proud that every day we move the garbage bins to our neighbor’s door.»

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