Psyttaleia waste on the move

A court decision yesterday gave the go-ahead for the transfer of sludge from the islet of Psyttaleia, which houses the capital’s main sewage treatment plant, to the Athens landfill in Ano Liosia, while authorities try to come up with a long-term solution to get the muck off their hands. The decision by the Council of State, Greece’s highest administrative court, to allow 900 tons of treated waste from the islet near Piraeus to be moved will come as a relief to authorities, since at least 120,000 tons of sludge had built up on Psyttaleia. Some 700 tons of waste are being added daily. The buildup of waste began in 2003, when Attica local authorities prevented the Athens Water and Sewage Company (EYDAP), which runs the site, from transferring the sludge to the Ano Liosia landfill. A plan to build a special drying plant had been proposed earlier in the year but Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias said yesterday that the project would be assigned to a successful bidder this September and would not be completed for another 2.5 years. Another plan, announced in March by Souflias, to burn over 100,000 tons of sludge as a temporary solution has now been shelved, he said. The idea had attracted strong opposition from local residents and officials. Souflias informed them of the decision during a meeting yesterday. However, the suggestion by another contractor, Bilfinger Berger, to take some of the sludge (400,000 tons over the next three years) to a disused marble quarry in Petroupolis, western Athens, was met with objections by local authorities. They fear that the stink would put off visitors to an annual municipal arts festival at an open-air theater situated on the same mountain as the quarry.