Inspectors cry foul over landfill

State environmental inspectors said Wednesday that the process for granting a permit for the construction of a waste management center in Grammatiko, northeast of Athens, was highly questionable.

The inspectors, who held an open meeting at the Environment Ministry Wednesday, suggested that some authorities had rushed through the approval of the Grammatiko center and had ignored the environmental implications.

“The permit for the construction of the landfill was awarded in record time between August and November 2003,” said Panayiotis Merkos, the general inspector for the environment. “This time is not even enough to get a license for a small livestock farm. It was first decided that the project would be built there and the studies were then formed around that in order to make it appear the most suitable area. Unfortunately, this tactic is quite common.”

Merkos also said that attempts were made to cover up the environmental impact of the project, which has been vehemently opposed by local residents and authorities. “There were stream beds in the area but the bulldozers moved in and covered them up,” he said. “The aerial photographs confirm this.”

“The state knew that the area chosen was not the most suitable but there was a reluctance to speak out,” added Margarita Karavasili, the special secretary for the environmental inspectorate.

In January the Council of State turned down an appeal by the municipalities of Lavreotiki and Grammatiko against plans for two landfills to be built in their respective areas, which include Keratea, the site of long battles between anti-landfill protesters and police in 2010 and 2011.

The country’s highest administrative court rejected claims that the landfills pose a public health hazard and are a threat to the environment and cultural heritage sites.

Also in January, the government launched the tenders for the construction of four new waste processing sites in Attica -- at Fyli, Liosia, Grammatiko and Keratea -- to replace the capital’s only landfill at Ano Liosia.  

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