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Angry Protesters Block Test of New Landfill Near Marathon

January 17, 2019

ATHENS – Protesters who tangled with police prevented a test run of a new landfill in the village of  Grammatiko in the municipality of Marathon as Greece continues to operate facilities despite being repeatedly fined by the European Union for violations of environmental laws.

Police reportedly called on ESDNA, the local government body responsible for waste management, to stop routes to the landfill until the situation could be brought under control, said Kathimerini, and provide time for a plan to protect the facility and incoming garbage trucks.

Residents set up barricades with their cars to stop trucks from reaching the location and two police jeeps were sent but came under attack from a hail of rocks with one officer suffering a leg injury, a police car and a garbage truck damaged.

That came after the Marathon municipal council called on residents to fight the dump’s operation and decided to set aside funds to provide legal assistance to any residents who might be arrested during demonstrations against the landfill.

In October, 2018, the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led government reopened 18 condemned landfills that were fined by the EU as damaging to the environment and put them back into operation around the country, 16 in the Peloponnese, the European Commission said.

There are still 14 landfills on islands that should have been closed down years ago and replaced with more environmentally sustainable waste management facilities, said Kathimerini in a report on the reopening of the closed facilities.

It came through a decision from the Environment Ministry to allow passenger ferries to transport trash from islands struggling with waste management, with currently operating facilities not willing to take the overload.

Greece has already paid some 51.2 million euros ($58.72 million in fines over such landfills. There was no information on why the EU allowed the reopening of facilities it had condemned as unsafe.

On Sept. 7, 2016, Greece was hit with a fine of 10 million euros ($11.47 million) and another allegedly 30,000 euros ($34,404) a day for condemned landfills but there was no report on whether the daily fine was actually paid as so far it would be another 22.9 million euros ($26.26 million) and counting.

As much as 80% of waste ends up at Greek landfill sites, according to a 2010 report, the BBC said as the European Court of Justice (ECJ) said the government had not complied with several deadlines to improve, risking human health and the environment.

The ECJ, the highest EU court, ruled in 2009 that Greece had failed to carry out new rules on rubbish, hazardous waste and landfill and took further action after the government in Athens failed to meet its 2013 deadline. The court said Greece’s failure to meet its obligations was “particularly serious in so far as it is liable to directly endanger human health and to harm the environment”.

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