Sewage dispute closes landfill

As municipal authorities in northwestern Athens shut down the city’s only landfill yesterday to protest the dumping of partially treated sewage, the government tried to overcome opposition by promising the waste would be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way. Ano Liosia Mayor Nikos Papadimas – who is to discuss the problem today with Environment and Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias – announced that the local landfill would remain closed for a second day today. This prompted an Athens Municipality appeal for the city’s residents to keep their rubbish at home for the next 24 hours. The Ano Liosia dump is close to capacity, and is due to shut down within the next 12 months – provided plans for three landfills to replace it go ahead. The site also receives daily shipments of sludge from the islet of Psyttaleia off Piraeus, where the capital’s main sewage treatment plant is located. Disputes over waste disposal have caused between 120,000 and 150,000 tons of sludge to pile up on the islet. The ensuing stench has drawn bitter complaints from Piraeus residents. Following meetings yesterday with western Attica prefect Aristidis Arkoudaris, as well as the western Athens mayors of Kamatero and Petroupolis, Souflias promised the sludge – Psyttaleia produces 290 tons a day – would undergo a biodegrading process at the landfill. He said the sewage would be mixed with earth, leaves and twigs to produce a 2.5-meter-deep layer of fertile soil that would then be planted with trees. An earlier plan to dump sludge in an abandoned Petroupolis quarry – close to an open-air concert venue – has been abandoned.

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