EC sees progress on landfills

Greece has made «great progress» in closing down illegal landfills but a lot more remains to be done, a visiting team of European Commission officials told authorities. According to a biministerial committee, which provided EC officials with an overview of progress being made by regional and local authorities, hundreds of illegal landfills have been closed down in the past few months. Of 2,974 makeshift dumps that had been registered early this year, the committee said, 1,454 have been replaced by so-called «sanitary» landfills and another 1,093 are in the process of being closed down. This should leave an estimated 500 illegal landfills by the end of the year, the committee said. «The aim of this effort is to manage waste in our country in a way that is fitting for an EU member state,» said Deputy Interior Minister Thanassis Nakos, who has been overseeing a drive to eradicate the country’s illegal dumps. EC officials had warned that Greece would face hefty fines – some 34,000 euros per landfill, per day – if it failed to close down the majority of its makeshift dumps by the end of the year. There was a sense of cautious optimism yesterday as the issue of fines was not raised. Jacques Poncet, a senior regional policy official for the EC, said that Greece appeared to have made «great progress» and was «on the right course» but added that «much more needs to be done if the final goal is to be reached.» Giorgos Kremlis, a spokesman for the EC’s environment directorate-general, was also upbeat. «Things are on the right track,» he said, adding that there are sufficient funds to secure the closing down of the illegal landfills and the creation of a new infrastructure for sanitary landfills. The biministerial report, whose results were presented to EC officials yesterday, observed that there had been an improvement in the operation of a new landfill site in northwestern Attica but noted that «complications» still hinder the construction of two more landfills in eastern Attica. Residents have mounted court challenges against the projects.