NEWS

Sludge plans kept buried

A team of European Parliament deputies on a visit to Athens to inspect the city’s waste management facilities have come across a veil of secrecy covering how the government plans to solve the problem concerning tons of sludge threatening to contaminate the Saronic Gulf. The Euro-MPs were in Athens on Thursday and Friday and visited the landfill at Ano Liosia and Athens Water Company (EYDAP) facilities, but no official was in a position to tell them how the government plans to set up an overall waste management system, which is desperately needed for the city. «The secretiveness of the Greek government left a negative impression on my colleagues,» Synaspimos Left Coalition MEP Dimitris Papadimoulis told Kathimerini. An estimated 170,000 tons of partly treated sewage is mounting up on the islet of Psyttaleia, where Attica’s only sewage treatment plant is located, as the government hunts for an acceptable solution on what to do with the sludge. Attempts to dump the sewage at a landfill in western Athens have been abandoned after strong protests from local residents. The issue has become politically charged given that local municipality elections are scheduled for next year. Sources say that three of the sewage trenches on the islet are already full and that the fourth one is filling up fast without an immediate solution in sight. The deputies had planned to visit the islet of Psyttaleia, which is close to Piraeus, but were unable to do so due to strong winds that kept ships tied up in port. «The mission met with Deputy Environment Minister Stavros Kaloyiannis, EYDAP, and Parliament’s environmental committee and no one could tell us what is going to happen with the sludge because simply no one knew,» said Papadimoulis. Environment Minister Giorgos Souflias has said that a solution to the problem will be found by Christmas. Last week, EYDAP said that the government is leaning toward shipping off the sludge some 2,700 kilometers to Sudan.