Volunteers respond to call for cleanup of Kifissos River

The first phase of a campaign to clean up the banks and mouth of the Kifissos River that flows through Athens ended Monday night for the hundreds of volunteers who had earlier been clearing litter. The campaign, organized by Skai Radio and TV and Kathimerini, resulted in the removal of 1,000 tons of rubbish. Also on Monday, the Environment Ministry announced the setting up of a National Organization for the Alternative Management of Packaging and Other Products (EOEDSAP) – after a six-year delay – to monitor the recycling of garbage in Greece. According to a presidential decree passed in 2001, the organization will be empowered to approve alternative waste management systems and carry out regular inspections. Meanwhile members of the public appeared keen to take matters into their own hands. «It was the biggest event ever organized in support of the environment,» said Dinos Laskaris, secretary of the Kifissos Restoration Management Agency. «The mobilization of so many people has given rise to hopes that at long last something good may be about to happen relating to the protection of the landscape.» People of all ages, members of various associations, politicians, local government officials, show business personalities and athletes all showed up to protest against land-grabbing and other illegal activities along the banks of the river. Rubbish was collected from the river’s upper reaches north of the city right down to its mouth in Faliron Bay. Work began on May 6 when about 1,500 people met at Adames, Nea Kifissia. In the days that followed, garbage was collected at Pyrna, Metamorphosis and along the Helidonous stream. Water samples were taken to measure levels of nitrates and microbes, which were found to be up to 340 times above accepted levels. As the sun set over the bay late on Monday, volunteers were treated to a concert by Vassilis Papaconstantinou in what had become a clean open space on the seafront.