NEWS

Temporary landfill site is given the green light

An interim solution has been found to the problem of disposing of Attica’s daily production of 6,000 tons of garbage. A few days ago the State Audit Council approved the construction of a «provisional» unit next to the existing landfill site at Ano Liosia in western Attica, capable of receiving garbage for the next eight months. «This is only a temporary, but a necessary, solution,» said Deputy Interior Minister Athanasios Nakos. «It will not solve the problem but will give temporary relief until we have worked out a more permanent solution.» A contractor has been assigned the job of constructing the temporary site, budgeted at 4 million euros, which is expected to be ready within 2-3 months. The Council’s ruling concerned a protest by the Municipality of Ano Liosia over the way the central association of municipalities (ESDKNA) had awarded the contract. «Because of the long delay, the association decided to take urgent measures in order to assign the project for the new site,» according to Dimitris Nikolaou, mayor of Holargos and member of ESDKNA’s executive committee. «However, the mayor of Ano Liosia, Nikos Papadimas, took exception the procedures and had recourse to the State Audit Council, which ruled in his favor.» ESDKNA lodged an appeal, which the plenary approved. However, a ruling by the Council of State (to have its final meeting in early December) is still pending on the siting of modern waste treatment plants at Fyli, Grammatiko and Keratea. There are already indications that a recommendation has been made to rule in favor of the protest. If this happens, according to the experts, Athens will be faced with the problem of what to do with those thousands of tons of garbage and also with the problem of absorbing European Union funds. Funds for Attica’s three new waste treatment plants have already been approved (with the help of Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis, Attica’s Regional Administrator and ESDKNA) and included in the European Union’s Cohesion Fund. According to a law passed by the PASOK government in 2003, the Fyli waste treatment plant is to receive 70 percent of the city’s daily waste, Keratea 15 percent and Grammatiko the remaining 15 percent. There have been major protests over these plans, particularly from Ano Liosia; with the support of the Western Attic prefecture, the municipality took recourse to the Council of State, claiming that «the region is already saturated and such a move (the Fyli site) would lead to an irreversible catastrophe.» Political games have only compounded the trash problems that have plagued the capital for years. Widespread indifference, including by the government, has been the main problem, particularly regarding the key choice between waste treatment/landfill and incineration plant. Meanwhile, over the past 18 years the Ano Liosia municipality and surrounding local government bodies have been receiving 40 million euros annually as an offset benefit for having the landfill site in their environs. Of that amount, 80 percent is being awarded to Ano Liosia, 10 percent to Aspropyrgos, and 5 percent each to Keratsini and Perama.