Fines loom as deadline for closing landfills nears

Greek authorities have less than two weeks to close down dozens of illegal landfills or face large fines as the European Court is set to announce the size of the total penalty for Greece’s flouting of European waste management laws on December 2.

According to the prosecutor’s proposal, Greece must pay a 22-million-euro lump sum and an additional 54,450 euros for every day it fails to shut down illegal landfills. With this warning in mind, the Environment Ministry has been scrambling to limit the potential fallout, closing some sites but chiefly transferring trash to regions with better waste facilities.

Greece was first convicted for violating European waste management laws in 2005 when the country had some 1,125 illegal landfills. The number of illegal sites has been drastically reduced since then but it was threatened again last June over a remaining 70 active landfills and another 223 dump sites that have been closed but not yet replaced with sanitary sites.

The latest data from the ministry suggest progress has been made since then, with the number of illegal landfills down to 49 – 18 in the Peloponnese, 16 in the Cyclades and Dodecanese, four in the northern Aegean, four in Ilia and the rest elsewhere. However authorities must still replace dozens of closed landfills with sanitary alternatives.

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