EU warning over sewage delay

Greece was yesterday on the receiving end of strong words from its own EU environment commissioner over the dumping of sewage at the Ano Liosia landfill and was warned that it could face action if it does not find another way of dealing with the sludge. In response to a question from Synaspismos Left Coalition MEP Dimitris Papadimoulis in the European Parliament, Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said the dumping of the sewage at the landfill in northwestern Athens, where it is mixed with wood and earth, was «incompatible with EU environmental legislation.» In June, Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias ordered the sludge to be taken from the Psyttaleia waste treatment plant off Piraeus to the capital’s main landfill because of environmental concerns about the amount of sewage that had piled up. The decision, however, was unpopular with residents and local authorities at Ano Liosia as well as workers who went on a two-week strike recently. «The transportation of large quantities of sewage with ships and trucks to the Ano Liosia landfill is an environmental problem,» Dimas said. «The Commission considers the disposal of the sludge to be incompatible with EU environmental laws.» Souflias has promised to stop the transfer of sewage to Ano Liosia by the end of the year but has not stated clearly what he will do instead. «The Commission considers this… a temporary solution and will not hesitate to take action against Greece if it needs to,» Dimas said. In a statement, the Public Works Ministry said that it would award a contract next month for the construction of a drying unit on Psyttaleia so it is ready by 2007. The current dumping of sewage at Ano Liosia is only a temporary measure, the statement added.