Illegal landfills to close

Most illegal landfills in mainland Greece are headed for closure now that the Interior Ministry has financed environmental studies on about 2,700 of the 3,000 such dumps around the country, a senior government official said. Deputy Interior Minister Thanassis Nakos told Sunday’s Kathimerini that authorities had completed the studies, which are required to shut down the landfills and revive the areas environmentally. «The studies have already been completed and there is the ability to shut down these landfills,» he said, referring to about 2,700 dumps targeted. «About 350 of [the dumps], which have better facilities, will continue to operate until they too are restored.» However, the numerous illegal dumps on Greece’s islands will also continue to operate because authorities say it’s too hard to tackle the problem there at this time. Meanwhile, the environmental studies on each of the landfills targeted on the mainland outline the required steps that local authorities must take to help the surrounding environment recover after removal of the dump. A report also grades the area on how dangerous pollution levels are. Finally, a technical study is drafted to guide the restoration of the area. When all the technical and environmental details are in place, a company will be selected, through a tender process, to carry out the project, authorities said. «Many regions, such as eastern and western Macedonia, have progressed with the technical study,» Nakos said. «Other areas, such as those in the Peloponnese and western Greece, have a long road ahead of them.» Municipal authorities are ultimately responsible for closing the illegal landfills, and the Interior Ministry cannot force the local authorities to speed up progress on studies or the drafting of guidelines. The EU is pressuring Greece to deal with the problem quickly, saying illegal landfills should be shut down by 2008.