Athens rubbish war heats up, dump shut

An Athens prosecutor warned local officials yesterday to reopen the capital’s only landfill, after their decision to keep the Ano Liosia site indefinitely shut to protest the dumping of partially treated sewage. Prosecutor Dimitris Papangelopoulos spoke on the phone with the northwestern Athens mayors and regional officials, informing them that he would take all necessary legal action to ensure that the landfill reopened. Earlier yesterday, western Attica prefect Aristides Arkoudaris and northwestern Athens mayors – led by Ano Liosia’s Nikos Papadimas – decided to indefinitely extend a two-day closure launched on Tuesday. This followed fruitless negotiations with Environment and Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias. A new decision is not expected until tomorrow, at the earliest. Protesting officials oppose the Ano Liosia site being used as a repository for the partially processed sewage produced at the Psyttaleia islet off Piraeus – some 290 tons on a daily basis. Due to previous disputes over sewage dumping at Ano Liosia, an estimated 150,000 tons of pungent sludge have built up at the processing plant, drawing angry complaints from western Piraeus residents. Papadimas rejected Souflias’s proposals as «unacceptable,» arguing that the dump will soon exceed its capacity. Ano Liosia is scheduled to be replaced within the next 12 months by three new sites outside the capital. Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis yesterday repeated calls for Athenians to keep their rubbish indoors, while condemning the landfill closure. «It is inconceivable that 4 million people should be held hostage,» she said – during a press conference to unveil a new domestic waste recycling program. «No unionist has the right to close the dump, even for five minutes, just as no unionist can cut off a hospital’s power supply.» The mayor argued that rising temperatures – which approached 30 degrees Celsius (86F) in the capital yesterday – and increasing tourist arrivals rendered «unacceptable» the prospect of the city’s streets being saddled with malodorous mounds of uncollected rubbish. Greece’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, has issued a provisional ruling allowing the dumping of treated sewage at Ano Liosia until a final hearing is held in December for appeals against the practice.

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