NEWS

Mesomouri, Hania — another illegal dump fiasco in the works?

With 1,300 illegal trash dumps and unable so far to implement an effective plan for abolishing them, Greece will probably be up before the European Court once more. Within a month the European Commission is to file another suit with the European Court on the issue of uncontrolled garbage dumps, asking Greece to deal with the matter swiftly. According to Environment Minister Vasso Papandreou, 35 of the 1,300 illegal dumps are in Attica, where they are not only a fire hazard but are also the source of 192 metric tons of liquid and hazardous waste a year leaking into the water table. The EU has asked that all relevant regional and national plans be updated and expedited, with particular emphasis on Attica, which produces half of the country’s waste. Those who fear another public fuss like the one over the Kouroupitos dump in Crete, for which Greece paid massive fines, may be justified, because Greece is still under fire for the way it handled that issue. A packing unit was set up at Mesomouri, Hania, to manage the waste, which used to go to Kouroupitos. Now, however, that waste simply piles up, uncontrolled, at a new site. The Commission is expected to send another warning and to be threatening legal action, while pressure is also being brought to bear by the European Parliament. In order to avoid the risk of being hauled before the court yet again, the Environment Ministry is considering asking for a meeting in Brussels at a political level, where it will ask Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom to be patient. The ministry will present plans for transferring part of the waste to a new landfill site at Korakia and for a study on covering and fencing off the rest. It will also make new commitments to rehabilitate Kouroupitos. But as European officials emphasize and the Greek memorandum acknowledges, «the features of this specific site and the history of its establishment rule out the likelihood of funds from the Cohesion Fund being used for its rehabilitation.»