Greece facing millions of euros in fines over waste-water treatment

Greece facing millions of euros in fines over waste-water treatment

The European Commission is seeking to slap Greece with a fine of more than 16 million euros for failure to comply with waste-water treatment regulations at the Thriasio Plain in western Attica. Greece will also face additional fines for every day that it fails to get the facilities serving the towns of Elefsina, Aspropyrgos, Magoula and Mandra up to scratch.

The European Court of Justice is expected to uphold the Commission’s recommendation as 12 years have passed since Greece’s first conviction for violating environmental rules, particularly with regard to the quality of water discharged into the Gulf of Elefsina, declared a “sensitive area” in 1999, a year after the Commission issued regulations concerning urban waste-water treatment.

After the first conviction in 2004, Greek authorities assured the Commission that biological treatment plants and the bulk of the water network to the plants would be completed by 2010. The plant did, in fact, go into operation in 2012, though there have been delays in completing the network. The Commission, moreover, is arguing that the existing plants are inadequate as they are capable of collecting and treating “only a very low percentage” (28 percent) of urban waste-water.

“In addition, the Commission has not obtained from the competent authorities any timetable with reliable data to permit any assessment of when any realistic progress can be expected,” the action claims. “The Commission emphasizes that the various deadlines which the Greek authorities have over time made known to the Commission have never been observed.”

The Commission is asking the court to impose a fine of 3,828 euros for every day from the first conviction (April 14, 2004), with an additional fine of 34,974 euros for every day that Greece fails to comply henceforth.

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