Greece misses landfill deadline

With the debt-ridden government facing the prospect of daily multimillion-euro fines from Brussels following the expiration yesterday of a European Commission deadline for the demolition of about 250 makeshift landfills, the Ombudsman presented a report highlighting the shortfalls that have created Greece’s waste management problems and proposed possible solutions. In his report, Ombudsman Giorgos Kaminis listed several shortcomings believed to have contributed to the current stalemate. These include problematic procedures for the allocation of sites for sanitary landfills – which are supposed to replace illegal dumps – and a lack of adherence to regulations for the protection of the environment. Kaminis also noted that in planning new facilities for waste management, authorities do not consider all the available alternatives and that the final decision is often taken based on political expediency. The watchdog also complained that fines are rarely imposed on municipal authorities for allowing illegal landfills to grow, noting that the authorities in question are usually excused due to the absence of sanitary landfills in their area. Kaminis stressed that greater emphasis should be given to recycling projects with the aim of drastically reducing the volume of trash going to landfills. Earlier this week, the Interior and Environment ministries heralded a joint initiative to destroy the remaining illegal dumps and replace them with sanitary landfills. Ministry sources say mayors and regional leaders have been reluctant to take action due to local authority elections due in the fall. The construction of sanitary landfills is believed to be a sore point with local residents whose votes authorities are keen to secure.

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