Greece to European Court over Chania landfill sites

Infringement of European waste laws at Kouroupitos and Mesomouri

chania wasteThe European Commission is referring Greece to the European Court again on charges of infringing European law on waste. Greece is accused of not having cleaned up the illegal landfill sites at Kouroupitos and Mesomouri in Chania.

This is the second time in recent years that there has been a problem with these sites. The first was in October 2003, when Greece was fined €20,000 per day until the dumps were closed down. Greece paid a total of €4.72 million until February 2001, when the site was considered closed. Unfortunately the problems at Kouroupitos did not go away. The rubbish was covered with earth, but this has been washed away by the rain.

Mesomouri, where rubbish is packed into large parcels, is also considered an illegal landfill site by the European Commission. The parcels have burst open in the sun and heat, and there are high concentrations of methane gas. There is also liquid runoff through a neighbouring gorge into the sea.

The European Commission has already sent Greece two warning letters and is now referring the country to the European Court. Given that Greece has already been condemned once on this matter, a second conviction would mean extremely high fines for our country.

The new developments have given rise to a “war” between the ministers of the Environment, Finance and the Interior, with the former accusing the latter two of not having obtained the necessary money earlier and not checking to see if local authorities are doing their job properly. The Prefecture of Chania, of course, disagrees. The Prefect claims that Ministry of the Environment bureaucracy is to blame for the delay in works intended to solve the problem. Fortunately the matter has been processed and €1.7 million found to complete the clean-up of Kouroupitos in 2006.

€800,000 have also been obtained for Mesomouri and this project is expected to be completed in time for Greece to avoid further condemnation by the European Court. Those responsible for Greece’s international disgrace must be taught that “once bitten, twice shy”.

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