The urban waste management in Greece represents a major environmental and social problem. Greece ratified with delay EU directives and the creation of sanitary landfill of residues/wastes and the implementation of recycling projects are still far behind. Especially in Attica region, where half of the Greek population live, the problem of urban waste management is crucial.
In Keratea, a city located in the eastern Attica, 40 km from Athens, a sanitary landfill for waste was suggested to be created by the former Ministry of Environment, Spatial Planning and Public Works in 2003, as Greek government was threatened with European sanctions. The proposed site is nearby archaeological sites, water streams as well as underground waters and minerals.
The location of the landfill was suggested without prior serious scientific research, adequate documentation and consideration of alternative locations. Most importantly, there was no prior sincere public consultation with the local community and local stakeholders.
In 2004 the Municipality of Keratea filed an action before the Council of State demanding the cancelation of the project’s environmental conditions, but in 2007, the Council rejected it with the pretext that the waste management problem in Attica has to be solved as soon as possible.
In 2009 the government proceeded to the approval of the environmental conditions’ extension, although it was affirmed that the sited of the landfill was technically wrong and the local societies opposed to the project. The ministry proceeded to the issuing of compulsory acquisition actions of the area that had obvious legal shortcomings; it didn’t elaborate a new Environmental Impact Assessment, despite the technical problems that appeared in the meantime and it committed a heap of infringements of the procedures provided by the law. Although, the biggest problem is that the landfill is located within a very important archaeological site of the Hellenistic period. The competent Ephorates of Antiquities have decided against the location of the landfill, underlying that the location is directly contrary to the archaeological legislation. Furthermore, the Central Archaeological Council hasn’t ever delivered opinion, process that is obligatory.
[1, 2] In December 2010 excavators appeared in the area, accompanied by riot police. From 11 Dec 2010 and for 128 days residents started a fight trying to block the starting of the construction, via street blockades, fierce riots, occupy/shut down of schools, popular assemblies, concerts, marches etc. In the riots, more than 50 people have been injured and several others were brought to court .
Besides citizens’ resistance, in January 2011 the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change published two Joint Ministerial Decisions for the Integrated Installation of Waste Management of Western Attica, comprising a) an installation for mechanical separation of unsorted municipal waste of 2500 tn/d capacity, and b) a plant for mechanical recycling of 1500 tn/d capacity .
Following that, the Ministry declared the opening of the tendering procedure for the assigning of the construction and the management operation for 20-25 years of four waste treatment plants in Attica, comprising Keratea too .
In 19th of April 2011, following a meeting of the Mayor of Lavreotiki, the Metorpolite of Mesogea and the Minister of Public Order & Citizen Protection, riot police pulled out, as well as the joint venture’s equipment. Although, the project hasn’t been cancelled.
In January 2012 the Council of State rejected once again the files submitted by the Municipality of Keratea against the Joint Ministerial Decision . In 16th of January, the Keratea’s movement meeting place, “Aparto Castro “(“impregnable castle”), was totally destroyed by unknown individuals; it was the center of coordination of the movement and it was rebuilt. The same year, Attica’s waste management was comprised in the list of the public-private partnerships promoted by the government and Solid Waste Management Body of Attica Region announced the opening of the tendering processes for the waste management projects in Attica. The new plans comprised the construction of a waste incineration plant. .
Today, the heads of the Regional Authority of Attica and the Solid Waste Management Body of Attica Region following the local elections in Mai 2014, although the plans for the waste management in Attica region are not yet cleared; the alternatives on waste management proposed by civil society groups, parties and municipality parties seem to be ignored and there are fears that less environmental friendly technologies could be promoted .