Fresh stink over Athens sewage

The government was hemmed in on two sides yesterday over the odious problem of sewage disposal, after Piraeus regional authorities stepped up pressure on the Athens Water Supply and Sewage Company (EYDAP) to stop storing processed waste just off the country’s largest port. The move came just one day after an uneasy truce was struck with northwestern Athens municipal and regional authorities, who closed the capital’s only landfill for a week in protest at the local dumping of waste partially processed at a major unit on the islet of Psyttaleia. According to government sources, Environment and Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias told a special Inner Cabinet meeting yesterday that he had agreed with protesting officials to stop sending waste from Psyttaleia to the Ano Liosia landfill for a few days. On Monday, protesters said they were opening the dump for regular trash – some 35,000 tons had built up on the capital’s streets during the closure – but not for waste from Psyttaleia. Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said «a form of consensus» had been reached. Souflias insists that a new, environmentally friendly sludge-processing method will be adopted at Ano Liosia, to turn the sewage into fertile soil that will be planted with trees. But local officials have ruled out any sewage disposal at the dump. Meanwhile, Piraeus regional authorities yesterday imposed a fourth 60,000-euro fine on EYDAP for allowing an estimated 150,000 tons of sludge to pile up on Psyttaleia. This buildup was caused by previous disputes over sewage disposal, which forced EYDAP to store large quantities of sludge on the islet. Piraeus residents complain of a strong stench from Psyttaleia, and warn a possible spill into the sea could have severe environmental repercussions.

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