Kifissos cleanup yet to materialize

Plans to clean up the polluted Kifissos riverbed and areas alongside the overhead expressway linking northern Athens with the coast at Faliron have stalled, claim local resident groups in three municipalities who say their quality of life has deteriorated radically. The environmental impact study for the construction of the highway ahead of the 2004 Olympic Games provided for soundproofing panels along the side of the highway, the planting of trees to provide a natural filter against atmospheric pollution and measures to prevent industrial waste from contaminating the river. «Although the road construction was completed five years ago, the environmental impact study has not been followed,» said Leivadaros Rousetos of «Mesopotamia,» the Citizens’ Movement of Moschato. «Noise pollution is our main problem,» he added, «since the appropriate sound barriers have not been installed.» Windows are permanently closed and the air conditioning is always on at the 5th Primary School in Rendi, which is at the same level as the highway, according to Manolis Lekkakis of the school’s parents’ association. Stagnant water on the riverbed is another major problem. «In the summer, the situation is unbearable,» said Rousetos. «The river water mixes with seawater and wastewater. The stagnant pools become sites of infection and the breeding ground for insects,» he said, pointing out that the environmental impact study provided for recycling the water. «We are calling for offset measures to improve our quality of life, such as a cultural center, parking areas,» he added. Further north in Nea Philadelphia, in an area designated as a riverside park, concrete bases are being built over part of a 2-hectare side, according to Constantinos Laskaris of the Attica Ecological Campaign. The particular site is included in a proposal by a group led by architect and town planner Vassilis Zotos for the restoration of the Kifissos River. The ministry has informed the Municipality of Nea Philadelphia that the site is being temporarily used by a contractor building reinforcement sections for the riverbanks.