NEWS

Dump closed as trash reaches a dangerous level

Uncollected garbage is expected to pile up again on Athens streets today and tomorrow because the capital’s only operating landfill was forced to shut down yesterday after becoming dangerously full, authorities said. The Union of Municipal Authorities in Attica (ESDKNA) ordered the closure of the landfill in Fyli, northwestern Athens, for 48 hours until construction work on its extension is completed. Rubbish piles at the Fyli dump are more than 155 meters high, making it far too unsafe for workers there. Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis appealed to residents to keep household trash indoors for the next two days so city dumpsters do not overflow with trash. The Fyli landfill is expected to reopen tomorrow but will only provide temporary relief. It is expected to fill up again around Easter, workers said. In a bid to find a more permanent solution, Kaklamanis is expected to request a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Athens’s permanent waste management woes. «The mayor will request the immediate formulation of a new environmental policy to deal with waste management as he believes that the situation has reached a critical juncture,» the City of Athens said. Meanwhile, the Environment Ministry yesterday ruled out setting up facilities to burn rubbish at sites where landfills may be opened around Athens. Ministry officials told Kathimerini that placing incinerators at potential landfill sites in Keratea and Grammatiko, eastern Attica, would require time-consuming changes to the zoning of the areas. Rezoning procedures demand new studies, which authorities must approve before the incinerator project is tendered off and, finally, constructed. All that would take between six and seven years, according to ministry estimates. «The regional land planning for Attica includes only positions for landfills and not rubbish-burning facilities or thermal treatment technologies. Additionally, the financing that has been secured by the Third Community Support Framework only relates to dumps,» said an Environment Ministry source. The government is hoping to open new landfills in Grammatiko and Keratea but local residents are trying to stop the move by taking the issue to the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court. A court ruling is expected to be made next month.