EC ups pressure over plain waste

The government faces legal action over its failure to develop a plan to manage waste on the heavily polluted Thriasio Plain, west of Athens, after the European Commission sent authorities a «reasoned opinion,» the last warning before an indictment. Locals have meanwhile appealed to the Council of State, Greece’s highest administrative court, to stop the project. The original deadline for the completion of such a unit had been in 1998. After Greece failed to meet another deadline in 2004, Brussels called for the waste management unit up to be up and running by the summer of 2009. Noting that Greek authorities have failed to make the necessary progress that will ensure the project is operational in the next few months, the EC is now threatening legal action. According to sources, the government asked the Commission to extend the deadline until the end of 2010, noting that local opposition has delayed the project. But officials in Brussels are reportedly unconvinced that the delays are solely due to local objections and are urging authorities to push on with the necessary measures. The broader region of the Thriasio Plain, home to some 120,000 people, has no comprehensive urban waste management network, resulting in tons of untreated water being washed into rivers and the sea. According to experts, the bulk of some 25,000 cubic meters of waste produced daily in the area seeps into the earth or runs off into the sea via rivers. Locals fear that the creation of a waste-management unit will cause further pollution in the area. The mayor of Aspropyrgos, Nikos Meletiou, has proposed the connection of the Thriasio Plain with a waste management unit on Psyttaleia, an islet off Piraeus. He complained that the planned unit does not offer «a third level of processing» and would result in large quantities of partially treated waste polluting the sea and coastline.

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