EU gives Athens trash warning

A European Commission official warned Greece yesterday that Athens needs to sort out its waste management problem quickly or risk finding itself in the same position as Naples, which has run out of places to dump its trash. Speaking at a meeting in Athens on the environment and sustainable development, the Commission’s director-general for regional policy, Jacques Poncet, told Greek officials, including Environment and Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias, that they need to act fast. «The situation in Athens is at a crucial stage,» he said. «If you do not want to find yourselves in the same position as Naples, you must take action soon.» The European Union took action against Naples earlier this year when hundreds of thousands of tons of rubbish piled up around the Campania region as authorities ran out of places to dump the trash. Many residents resorted to burning their garbage instead, releasing harmful dioxins into the air. Poncet’s call was backed by Giorgos Kremlis, a spokesman for the Commission’s Environment Directorate-General. «It is important that national and regional waste disposal planning is updated to take account of climate change and the new technology that is available,» said Kremlis. Athens has until now relied on its only landfill, which serves the whole of Attica, in the northwestern suburb of Ano Liosia. However, the landfill is effectively full and alternative solutions are being sought. A government committee yesterday rubber-stamped plans to create three new landfills at Fyli, Grammatiko and Keratea, where the trash will be processed and composted. The members of the committee are due to meet today with Poncet and Kremlis to discuss the project.

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