OPINION

Rubbish politics

The prospects of Greece’s ability to protect the environment are grim. The shame falls not only on our country, as Spain as well as Greece were reported as the states with the largest number of illegal waste dumps in the EU. A study conducted by the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) on the municipality of Valtetsi in Arcadia, which assesses the radioactivity levels of emissions from a Public Power Corporation (PPC) production unit in Megalopolis, is an additional cause for serious concern. According to a draft report, the radioactivity levels at various places in the municipality by far exceed the maximum permissible level of natural radioactivity, adding that at times, and depending on the strength of the wind, the instrument was jammed because of the high level of radioisotopes. Despite the results of the study being rebuffed by the Greek Atomic Energy Committee (EEAE), which is under the umbrella of the Development Ministry, this is a charge with direct implications on public health. The fact that the problem was revealed following an initiative by the municipality of Valtetsi which then turned to the NTUA highlights the issue as regards the abilities and responsibilities of local administration in environmental issues. Considering that the European Commission said that Greece is a «shame» to Europe for hosting 10 illegal landfills, when in fact there are about 1,500 such waste dumps across the country, gives one an idea of the huge responsibilities which lie with municipalities in this matter. Scores of lavish promises are to be heard these days in view of the looming municipal elections. In truth, municipalities have either taken no measures at all, or they have only commissioned some study on the construction of sanitary rubbish dumps and are waiting for funding from the Third Community Support Framework (CSFIII), expecting to invest part of the money in other activities. The public should not allow this to happen. It should demand that municipal candidates commit themselves on the issue of rubbish disposal and other environmental issues. The growing funds and responsibilities of the municipal and prefectural bodies have only resulted in more political favors from local administrators. We’ve had enough.