Attica’s excess sludge could trickle to Sudan

Authorities are considering transporting thousands of tons of partly treated human waste from an islet off Piraeus nearly 3,000 kilometers to Sudan as a solution to Attica’s growing sewage problems, the Athens Water Company (EYDAP) said yesterday. A tanker with the capacity to carry some 26,000 tons of sludge has already arrived at the islet of Psyttaleia, where Attica’s only sewage treatment plant is located. EYDAP officials have asked the firm Edil Hellas to look into how the 170,000 tons of waste on the site can gradually be transferred from the islet. The board of EYDAP has yet to give the go-ahead for the program to begin in earnest, but it looks likely that a pilot scheme will start soon. This will involve the sludge being transported some 2,700 kilometers by sea to Sudan, where it will be dried and compacted at a US-owned plant in the African state before being used as a fertilizer. The process will also extract the heavy metals from the waste. Transporting the sewage will cost EYDAP between 50 and 80 euros per ton, sources said. The company said that if it proceeds with this option, it will only do so until a drying unit is built on Psyttaleia. The Public Works Ministry will also have to rubber-stamp the deal. Sources at the European Environment Agency said that if the Sudanese government agrees to the deal, then there is no legislation to prevent the transportation of the sludge. Greek environmentalists, however, labeled the move as «unethical.» «The use of sludge as a fertilizer in Sudan, when such a use is banned in Greece, is a blatant case of environmental racism,» the head of Greenpeace in Greece, Nikos Haralambidis, told Kathimerini.

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