EU concern at Attica waste pickle
Greece has made «significant progress» in closing down illegal landfills in the provinces but Attica still has a big problem with its waste management, which must be tackled if fines and subsidy cuts are to be avoided, a visiting European Commission official said yesterday. Giorgos Kremlis, a spokesman for the EC’s Environment Directorate-General, welcomed the reduction in the country’s illegal landfills from 1,102 to seven, which authorities have pledged to close by the end of this year. But, Kremlis stressed, Attica will continue to have a big problem if stalled plans to create sanitary landfills in Keratea and Grammatiko, in the region’s east and north, respectively, fail to go ahead. If these works fail to be realized, Greece may face legal action for violating European Union regulations and may suffer subsidy cuts to the tune of 252 million euros, Kremlis added. Deputy Interior Minister Thanassis Nakos, who is spearheading efforts to clear up illegal landfills, struck a more upbeat note, saying that a timetable had been drawn up for the construction of «four modern waste-processing plants in Attica – two in Fyli (at the main landfill site northwest of the capital), one in Grammatiko and one in Keratea.» Nikos Hiotakis, the head of the Association of Municipalities and Communities of Attica Prefecture (ESDKNA) which supervises the Fyli site, was less positive yesterday. «The situation in Attica is not good,» he said, noting that although there has been extensive planning, opposition by local authorities has resulted in the projects stalling. «If the new landfills are not built, things will get very difficult in Attica in two years or so when the existing landfills reach saturation,» he said. But even more important than the creation of new landfills is the construction of two waste-processing plants in eastern Attica, Hiotakis said. «Let’s hope local authorities allow these projects to go ahead,» he said.