Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday inaugurated a much-awaited sewage drying facility on the islet of Psyttaleia, off Piraeus, describing it as a «decisive solution» to Attica’s chronic waste management problem. «We are all aware of the unacceptable situation we inherited,» Karamanlis said in a clear dig at the previous PASOK government as pre-election tensions mount. «The sludge was piling up here because the waste processing facility had not been complemented with a drying unit,» he said. Karamanlis and Environment and Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias inspected the drying unit and the original waste processing plant, which currently accommodates a surplus of 250,000 tons of partially treated sewage. «In six months, not a drop of this accumulated sludge will be left on Psyttaleia,» Souflias remarked. According to authorities, the new facility will help to dry the excess sludge as well as the hundreds of tons of sludge processed by the plant daily. The dried sludge – in the form of pebble-sized granules – is destined to be used as fuel after being removed from the site by the Athens Water Supply and Sewage Company (EYDAP). The plant is currently operating at half capacity, following a trial run on June 1, but is to reach full capacity by the end of the month, drying some 500 tons of sludge per day. By mid-July it will be processing 750 tons of sludge per day, authorities say. The drying plant took 14 months to build and cost some 26 million euros (75 percent of which was covered by European Union funding). Souflias said the facility was the government’s response to an «environmental crime,» noting that «the Saronic Gulf had been on the brink of ecological disaster.» Karamanlis also highlighted the government’s environmental sensitivity, noting that the expression of good intentions on World Environment Day is not enough – another evident dig at the opposition. «We believe that we should all work to improve our environment 365 days a year,» he said.