EU rap for Greece on wastewater

The European Court of Justice yesterday condemned Greece for failing to provide 23 towns – including several tourist resorts – with adequate waste-processing units and threatened legal consequences unless immediate action is taken. The affected areas include much of eastern Attica, a large section of Thessaloniki, the Cretan port of Iraklion, the Ionian island of Zakynthos, the Aegean island of Paros, Nafpaktos, Igoumenitsa and Tripolis. Most of these areas now rely on very basic sewage disposal systems that do not meet minimum European Union standards. As a European Union member state, Greece should have provided these towns with adequate waste-processing units by 2000. Authorities say that 50 such units are being constructed. Of the 160 units in Greece, dozens are believed to be non-operational due to poor design. Another problem, according to experts, is the absence of any monitoring organization to check that existing units are operating properly. Government officials did not comment on yesterday’s decision by the European court, which was widely expected. The court yesterday also slammed Greece for its poor record on wildlife preservation, saying that many rare species of birds are unprotected. In a ruling made public yesterday, the court called on Greece to characterize 25 percent of its countryside as «protection zones» for 12 endangered species of birds, including certain vultures and hawks. The European Commission has rapped Greece over its failure to clean up Lake Koroneia, the country’s dirtiest body of water, despite receiving more than 20 million euros in EU funding for the task. Hundreds of dead birds and fish were found around the lake recently despite alleged improvements since 2004 when 30,000 local birds, including flamingos and ducks, died due to the high levels of toxins in the water.