Rubbish action today

Seven days into their closure of the capital’s only landfill, municipal and regional officials of northwestern Athens meet today to discuss continuing the protest, under the growing threat of prosecution on public health grounds. Officials from municipalities bordering the Ano Liossia site oppose its use for the dumping of partially processed sludge from the capital’s main sewage-treatment plant, on the islet of Psyttaleia off Piraeus. Yesterday, Environment and Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias said that although it was understandable that people living in the wider vicinity of the dump should be up in arms against the sewage deliveries, there is no other way of addressing the problem until a sewage-drying unit is built on Psyttaleia. He said this is expected to happen two years from now. «I understand and respect the anxiety and the problems of the people of western Attica,» he said. «But unfortunately, the massive mistake of providing for only one landfill in Attica has already been committed, and there is no other way out.» Souflias has countered protests over the sewage dumping by saying a new system will be used whereby the sludge is mixed with earth, leaves and branches and left to bio-degrade into fertile soil that will be planted with trees. The minister invited the mayor of Ano Liossia and other local officials this week to visit the Thessaloniki landfill, where he said the process is being implemented with great success. «The method has no objectionable side effects and is environmentally friendly,» he said. As thousands of tons of trash have built up on the streets of Athens and Piraeus due to the landfill closure, northwestern Athens officials are to meet today to decide on whether to continue the protest. They are also due to meet with Athens prosecutor Dimitris Papangelopoulos, who has warned he will take any legal action deemed necessary to reopen the dump. The Liossia site is scheduled to close within the next 12 months, and will be replaced by three new landfills at nearby Fyli, Grammatiko in northeastern Attica and Keratea, southeast of the capital.

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