Sludge mounts as time passes

The government is still weighing its options regarding what it will do with more than 170,000 tons of partly treated sewage, sources said yesterday, after a self-imposed deadline on announcing a plan to solve Athens’ waste management woes expired last week. Sources at the Public Works and Environment Ministry suggested that the government is no longer considering exporting the sludge to Sudan from Attica’s only treatment sewage plant on the islet of Psyttaleia but to a destination in Europe. The Athens Water Company (EYDAP) had said in November that it was considering transferring the waste to a treatment plant in the African country until Greece develops its own drying unit in 2007. Apart from doubts as to whether Sudan has the ability to treat the sewage in an environmentally friendly way, the ministry is concerned that the option may not get the green light from Brussels. The ministry is looking at four to five options right now and announcements will probably be made next week, the source told Kathimerini. The sludge on Psyttaleia, near Piraeus, is building up fast and experts estimate that authorities have only 90 days to find a solution before it starts to overflow and contaminate the Saronic Gulf. Synaspismos Left Coalition MEP Dimitris Papadimoulis raised the issue in the European Parliament yesterday by asking the European Commission whether it had been informed about what Greece plans to do and when the new drying unit will be completed. Sources say the construction of the drying unit is likely to suffer delays and will not be ready by the start of 2007, as initially reported, but toward the end of that year.

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