Three more days of trash

Thousands of tons of rubbish are expected over the next three days to join the festering mounds on the streets of Athens, as local authorities yesterday decided to continue the closure of the city’s only landfill until Monday. Municipal and regional officials who met in the afternoon in Elefsina, western Attica, also announced plans to stage a protest rally in Klafthmonos Square, central Athens, at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. Northwestern Athens municipalities and regional officials have kept the local Ano Liosia rubbish dump closed since last Tuesday to protest at its use as a repository for sludge from the capital’s main sewage treatment site, on the islet of Psyttaleia, off Piraeus. In a bid to break the deadlock and safeguard public health, an Athens prosecutor has called a meeting with protesting officials on Monday. Dimitris Papangelopoulos has already warned the officials – on the second day of the closure – he would take any legal action deemed necessary to reopen the dump. While the government has admitted that the current situation is unsatisfactory – a problem the ruling conservatives blame on the previous, Socialist administration – it says there is no decent alternative on the cards. Environment and Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias insists that a new, environmentally friendly way of disposing of the partially treated sewage at Ano Liosia will allow the sludge to biodegrade after being mixed with earth, leaves and branches. Souflias says the fertile residue will then be planted with trees, as the landfill is due to be replaced over the next year by three new sites at Fyli – close to Ano Liosia – Grammatiko and Keratea. But protesting local authorities say they will not accept any sludge. An estimated 150,000 tons of partially treated sewage have built up at Psyttaleia as a result of previous disputes over its disposal. The Athens Water Company (EYDAP), which runs Psyttaleia, has a contract with the association of Attica local authorities – which runs the Ano Liosia site – to dump sewage there, while the Council of State has issued a temporary decision allowing the practice to continue pending a final ruling in December. Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis says it will take 21 days to clear a week’s rubbish off the city’s streets.

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