Koroneia shores piled with trash

Conservation groups in northern Greece are up in arms over the unchecked dumping of trash along the banks of Lake Koroneia, a European Union-protected area, complaining that more than 20 illegal tips have sprung up there. Just a few months after the launch of a project to restore the lake, heavily polluted from industrial waste, it is undergoing a second phase of abuse, according to Savvas Anastassiadis, who heads a local association set up to preserve Koroneia and Volvi lakes. «It is a tragic state of affairs,» Anastassiaidis told Kathimerini, noting that he had asked local police to press charges against all those found to be responsible for dumping trash in the area. He added that the situation had been further aggravated by the closure last week of Thessaloniki’s Mavrorachi landfill, by residents protesting the alleged dumping there of toxic hospital waste. Much of the trash that would normally go to the Mavrorachi landfill was being discarded at the makeshift dumps along the lakeside, according to Anastassiadis. Of the 20 or so illegal tips that have appeared along the shores of Koroneia, some are located in the nucleus of the protected zone, conservationists say. And it is not only household trash that is discarded there but bulky garbage such as unwanted furniture and electrical appliances. The accumulation of the trash is not just contributing to downgrading the environment and posing a threat to local birds and mammals but it also poses a serious fire risk, conservationists say. The combustion of flammable materials on landfills is a frequent cause of fires in summer. According to Anastassiadis, a key problem is the lack of guards at the site. «It is impossible for six guards to adequately monitor the 175,000 hectares of land accommodating the Koroneia and Volvi lakes,» he said. His organization has appealed to the relevant local authorities to help clear away the illegal dumps.