Athens, a city of four million people, produces 6,000 tons of trash daily. Since most garbage dump areas, that is land fills are brimming over, mountains of refuse have filled the streets in early January. A definite put down for a city famed for its laurels and glorious history.
Since the landfill at Ano Liosia,in northwestern Athens, reached full capacity in late December, the government does not know what to do. The Ano Liosia land fill also violated all European Union landfill directives, at 100-hectare, or 250 acre it is believed to be the largest in Europe. It remains a mountain mix of partially- treated sewage, toxic hospital waste, construction site rubble and household trash.
Nikos Charalambides, Greenpeace’s national director is quoted to have said:
The problem is that waste management is synonymous with landfilling in Greece.
Runoffs from the land fill has seeped 100 meters underground, infecting the subsoil in neighboring coastal suburbs and the waters of the Saronic Gulf with what researchers called a toxic time bomb that will exist for at least 60 years.
Stavros Dimas, EU’s environment commissioner is quoted to have said:
Greece has failed to consider the waste hierarchy principle, where priority is given to the prevention of waste, then to its reuse, recycling and recovery,
The EU has given Greece a year-end deadline to shut down more than 2,700 illegal landfills that have been registered by the state, and about 1,000 that have yet to be registered, and replace them with waste treatment facilities.
Greece has 2,700 illegal landfills; it has already paid a fine of €4.7 million to the EU for failing to close an immense illegal landfill at Kouroupitos on Crete. Another problem remains of burning of plastic and other inorganic refuse at legal and illegal landfills across the country.
Greece urgently needs to shut down illegal landfills and put in place waste treatment facilities. Greece’s chronic waste- management problem poses grave environmental plus public health risk and needs to be checked.