Talking trash

Garbage is set to pile up across the city of Athens, since the capital’s only landfill at Ano Liosia has been shut down indefinitely. Ano Liosia Mayor Nikos Papadimas decided to close the dump site following fierce protests from local residents – who earlier this week pelted municipal officials with eggs – and strong pressure from neighboring local leaders who have insinuated that the mayor is making shady deals with the government at the public’s expense. This time the rift was caused by the government’s decision to allow daily shipments of sludge from the islet of Psyttaleia off Piraeus to be disposed at the landfill. The failure of the PASOK government to complete the waste treatment facilities of the Psyttaleia plant – an otherwise extremely vital project – and poor handling by the Public Works Ministry under the conservative administration have certainly exasperated the problem. To make matters worse, the issue has become a target of the Socialist party’s political opportunism in view of next year’s local elections. Repeated problems have also postponed the operation of ultra-modern waste treatment sites at Filis, Grammatiko, and Keratea. To be sure, the residents of Ano Liosia are right to protest that their district has for decades hosted the only garbage dump. But the mayor has no right to violate the Council of State ruling obliging the local dump to accept sludge from the Psyttaleia treatment plant – especially when we are so close to the construction of the three new waste treatment sites, which promise to solve the Ano Liosia problem for good. Municipal officials ought to have shown a stronger sense of responsibility. It is unreasonable and unfair to make 4 million people pay the price for the delays, errors and omissions of government and local leaders. People are fed up with their failures. It is unacceptable that several governments have for decades failed to give a final solution to this fundamental problem. It is time the conservative administration put an end to this sad state of affairs which is making a mockery of what is ostensibly a European capital.

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