EC pushes government on trash

As local authorities and residents in Grammatiko, northeastern Attica, dig in their heels over the planned construction of a landfill in their area, the head of the European Commission’s environment directorate, Karl Falkenberg, has written to the government, stressing that the construction of two new landfills should go ahead but must be accompanied by more sophisticated waste management methods. The letter, addressed to Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou as well as Environment and Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias and Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, notes that «sanitary landfilling ranks bottom in the hierarchy of waste management methods and does not have wide popular support.» As regards the specific case of Attica, the letter notes that «sanitary landfilling cannot provide an effective, long-term and viable solution for waste management» and underlines the need for «the use of new technologies, such as thermal processing.» The letter also observes that «the limited life span» of landfills «necessitates the implementation of new solutions» and prods the government by calling for an «essential and dynamic intervention by the national authorities,» noting that such a move would «highlight the existence of political will and constitute an example to provincial authorities.» Local authorities were quick to invoke the letter as a vindication of their protests, even though the Commission has insisted Greece push ahead with the construction of the two landfills as part of a broader waste management plan for Attica. The prefect for eastern Attica, Leonidas Kouris, noted that, «despite efforts to suggest that the facility slated for Grammatiko will be an organized waste management facility, the contract with the firm undertaking the project proves that it will be nothing more than a landfill.»