In a first step toward removing a massive potential environmental and health hazard from an islet just off Piraeus, the Athens Water Company (EYDAP) yesterday called for bids from companies interested in taking charge of nearly 200,000 tons of processed sewage. In the absence of a suitable drying system, some 180,000 tons of sludge from the capital’s main sewage-treatment plant on Psyttaleia have already piled up on the islet, prompting the Piraeus Prefecture to order the unit’s closure on November 11. This decision has since been suspended for a month by Attica regional authorities. The bids will be presented on February 18, although it is unclear how soon after that the winning company will start disposing of the semi-liquid waste. EYDAP is expected to offer a maximum payment of 60 euros per ton. Residents in the Piraeus municipalities of Perama and Keratsini have long complained of the unbearable stench from the sludge, while environmentalists fear the waste could pollute the Saronic Gulf and endanger public health.