NEWS

Long delay causes sludge pileup

Poor planning and bad communication at the Public Works and Environment Ministry have delayed the removal of sewage from Psyttaleia, sources told Kathimerini yesterday as 250,000 tons of waste fester on the islet. Ministry sources said the green light was finally given for a contracted vessel to transport 3,000 tons of partially treated waste starting at the end of May. Red tape had delayed the project for months. But the storage facilities on the vessel can only accommodate solidified waste and not liquid sewage, which means the ship is having to have its storage areas altered, creating another delay. The transport operation is part of costly government plans to dispose of the waste by taking it for treatment to Germany, since Greece does not have the facilities to solidify it. A joint venture consisting of Lobbe Tzilalis and Environchem Hellas has been awarded the task of taking 75,000 tons of waste off the hands of the Athens Water Supply and Sewage Company (EYDAP) for 9.6 million euros. A second ship has since been brought in to transport 4,500 tons of waste and is expected to sail from Psyttaleia in the coming days after a two-week delay. Ministry officials are hoping the transport goes smoothly. The delays and breakdown in communication between the Environment Ministry and the contractors have left senior government officials red-faced and saying that others are to blame. Deputy Environment Minister Themistoklis Xanthopoulos told Parliament earlier this month that various business interests are behind the delays. Another ministry source described the situation as already unbearable for residents living close to Attica’s only sewage treatment plant. «It is true that when there is a southerly wind, the situation at Perama (located close to Psyttaleia) is suffocating,» he said. The source said the ministry has contracted a third ship to transport the sewage. It will reach the islet on Friday.