OPINION

Our pitiful record in managing landfills

We have not had any pleasant surprises this summer. True to form, there have already been landfill fires and carcinogenic substances have been released into the atmosphere. Soon we will no doubt witness the onset of this year’s forest fires, which begin in illegal garbage dumps or are intentionally started by would-be land-grabbers. This recurring pattern of destruction leads to a clear conclusion: that this country has not learnt anything from its unpleasant experiences in the past. Every time a disaster occurs, everyone curses and wrings their hands. Directly afterward, the state and its citizens fall into a kind of lethargy, only to wake up with the next disaster. We live in a country full of landfills. We are all aware of the environmental and aesthetic damage being suffered by our unique Greek landscape, which we want to sell to foreigners in order to encourage the only industry that can really bloom in Greece, namely tourism. We can all see that the countless landfills constitute ticking bombs, ready to explode in the summer. Nevertheless, we continue to pay exorbitant fines to the European Commission as we do not take the necessary action to stamp out this scourge. Meanwhile, local communities protest against the use of licensed landfills to handle our garbage, shifting the problem geographically and postponing its solution. And the politicians, ever fearful of the political cost of their actions, leave the problem unsolved, allowing garbage to litter our gorges, fires to burn unchecked and toxic gases to poison our atmosphere. So far this summer, there have been fires at landfills at Tagarades in Thessaloniki and Thymari in Attica. There are sure to be more. This crime must be stopped. As the previous government failed to act in time, the onus is on the current government to find a comprehensive solution for the disposal of our trash, and to implement it.