NEWS

Huge EC fine looms over landfills

Greece faces a 10-million-euro fine from the European Commission if it fails to clear up some 400 illegal landfills which are still operating in the country’s provinces, officials in Brussels have warned. The government managed to avoid a stinging fine – of 34,000 euros per day per landfill – at the end of last year when it promised that the remaining landfills were virtually ready to close. But it appears that environmental inspectors in Brussels have gotten wind of Greece’s lack of progress in this area and are preparing to punish Greece within the next six months. Authorities had received a warning in a letter from Regional Policy Commissioner Danuta Hubner in the middle of last month, warning that Greece would face fines for 400 illegal dumps and not just seven, the figure most recently given to Brussels, unless immediate and intensive action was taken. Deputy Interior Minister Athanassios Nakos, who has been spearheading a government drive to clear up illegal landfills, blamed local authorities for the fact that 400 makeshift dumps are still operating. «We never concealed the real number of makeshift landfills,» he told Sunday’s Kathimerini. «Most of the hurdles hindering the construction of sanitary landfills, which would allow us to close down the illegal dumps, have been created by local communities who do not want trash in their own back garden but in that of their next-door neighbor,» he said. Last month Nakos blamed local authorities in eastern Attica for obstructing the launch of works to create three new sanitary landfills in their area, claiming that their foot-dragging had prompted the EC’s recent decision to freeze European Union funding for the projects. According to figures released by a ministerial committee, 2,108 dumps were operating illegally last summer.