Stench from stagnant water reaches homes

All 12 kilometers along the Kifissos that are designated protected areas, on the edges of the municipalities of Kifissia, Metamorphosis, Acharnes and Nea Philadelphia, are far from being the recreational spaces they are supposed to be. Pollution is everywhere, even in Metamorphosis, where, at least in theory, there is a wastewater treatment plant owned by the Athens Water and Sewerage Company (EYDAP) and managed by a private concern. Yet just 200 meters past the plant, pollution is visible to the naked eye. Environmental groups claim that untreated industrial waste, some of it toxic, is being dumped here, and have taken recourse to the public prosecutor’s office, which is investigating. «This is industrial waste, which, because of the problems being faced at the Psyttaleia waste-treatment plant, is being dumped by tanker trucks into the Metamorphosis drain and from there into the Kifissos River. It is all being done in secret, as no one checks whether the waste is from households or whether it is toxic. The results are being felt, or rather smelled, by everyone living along the river,» said Yiannis Manikas, an EYDAP staff member and member of the Kifissos Ecology Campaign. Bad smells are discernible all along the river but particularly from Pireos Street to the mouth of the Kifissos in Neo Faliron. Recently the Piraeus Prefecture, after an incident in which oil byproducts were tossed into the river, polluting the water and emanating a strong oily smell, drafted a special report, including photographs, to the Piraeus public prosecutor. In its report, the prefecture charged that the relevant authorities had been «turning a deaf ear to repeated appeals from residents suffering from the results of failure to abide by environmental regulations.» Stagnant waters «The bad smell from the Kifissos is worse at its mouth, mainly because of the stagnation of its waters caused by the anti-flooding projects constructed along and the raised highway built above the river. The river bed is now below sea level,» explained Dimitris Koutsoyiannis of the National Technical University of Athens’s civil engineering department. «One of the disadvantages of this section is the difficulty of monitoring and removing foreign objects that float across from the upper, open course of the river downstream to the covered section. If this problem is solved, the Kifissos would likely become a free-flowing river again.» «On some days the smell is so powerful that we can’t breathe,» said Apostolos Aloniatis, coordinator of the Kifi-SOS environmental group. «We close our doors and windows, and worry about our health because, apart from the smell and the pollution, there is also the stagnant water. In Moschato and Neo Faliron, the river is virtually a huge open drain.»