Trash overload on Spetses

The unchecked disposal of garbage, and sewage, on Spetses is turning the southernmost of the Saronic Gulf islands into an eyesore and a health risk, three distinguished Spetsiots have complained. Garbage trucks and sewage companies regularly dump their loads onto the island’s beaches, while many hotels and private homes have set up an illegal waste-disposal system discharging sewage into the sea, according to honorary ambassadors Pavlos Apostolidis and Adamandios Vakalopoulos, and Yiannis Kokkalas, the president of the European Commission’s office in Greece. The area of Agriopetres is reportedly the worst affected by the pollution onslaught. «Garbage trucks offload on a slope a few meters above the beach. Then municipal authorities either burn or bury the trash,» said a statement released to Kathimerini by the three men. But burning the trash in the illegal landfill that has formed on the beach often ignites fires in adjacent forestland, they said. Meanwhile, the tactic of burying the garbage merely ensures it gets pushed down the beach and into the sea, they added. Meanwhile, samples of seawater from different parts of the island sent for laboratory analyses have reportedly revealed high levels of fecal coli bacteria. Similar tests conducted in the summer by prefectural officials revealed high levels of the same bacteria in front of some of the island’s hotels «that could be attributed to the unchecked discharge of sewage,» Piraeus Prefect Yiannis Michas said. But according to Spetses Mayor Vangelis Kontaxakis, measures have been taken to improve the situation. «We have gained approval for a biological waste-processing center after more than 10 years of red tape, and firms found to have violated regulations have been ordered to build leakproof cesspits,» he said. Local authorities also got the okay to set up a trans-shipment unit for garbage, which will replace the island’s landfill when it has been completed, Kontaxakis said. According to a regional decision taken in 2001, Spetses, Poros, Hydra and Agistri should all collect their garbage in cargo containers for transfer to a landfill in Argolida, in the Peloponnese. But this has yet to be done as the necessary trans-shipment units have not been set up.