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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-06-07

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM and environment minister visit Psyttalia sewage works
  • [02] Bakoyannis to visit Middle East on Sunday

  • [01] PM and environment minister visit Psyttalia sewage works

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday paid a visit to a new sludge-drying plant that recently went into operation at the sewage works on Psyttalia, an islet in the Saronic Gulf, accompanied by Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias.

    The prime minister stressed that, with the Psyttalia drying plant, the sewage sludge management problem was being solved in the most appropriate, scientific way. Sewage sludge produced from waste collected all over the Attika basin had been accumulating on the islet of Psyttalia because the sewage works did not include a drying plant, creating fears that the partly-treated sludge would destabilize and contaminate the surrounding sea.

    Karamanlis stressed that the government had now met its commitment to solve the problem within just three years.

    Referring to environmental protection issues, the prime minister stressed that the environment is a major challenge that the present generation is being called on to tackle with a sense of responsibility, realizing the gravity of the situation.

    The efforts aimed at protecting the environment should be a year-round effort and not be limited to empty words and statements on each World Environment Day, stressed Karamanlis. Environmental planning and government action was aimed at protecting biodiversity, rational management of water resources, promotion of renewable energy sources and environmentally-friendly management of waste, he added.

    On his part, Souflias stressed that the new plant solved a 15-year-long problem for the people of Attika and the neighboring municipalities. Back in 2004, the government inherited an unacceptable and dead-end situation with a daily production of 500 tons of sewage sludge, 150 thousand tons of accumulated sewage sludge, no chance of transporting it elsewhere and no drying plant, he stressed.

    An ecological disaster in the Saronic Gulf has been averted, underlined Souflias, adding that the permanent solution to the problem became a priority for the ministry of environment. He also referred to projects materialized in the past three years aimed at harmonizing Greece with the relevant EU legislation.

    The trial operation of the plant was launched on June 1. Initially, only two of the four drying lines will be in operation and by the end of June they will be processing 500 tons of sewage sludge daily, equal to the daily production of sewage sludge in the region of Attika.

    The other two drying lines will be put in operation in early July, raising the plantās sewage sludge drying capacity to over 750 tons daily, while the goal set for the next 6 months is to permanently solve the problem of the 150 thousand tons of accumulated sewage sludge.

    Antonaros on PMās visit, Psyttalia plant

    Questioned about the prime ministerās visit during the regular press briefing, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros cited a statement by Souflias that ?an environmental crime? had been committed at Psyttalia.

    The minister had stressed that the drying plant should have been constructed in 1995, when the sewage treatment plant first went into operation and began producing 250 tons of sewage sludge each day.

    Souflias had also related how the project had been included in EU funding programmes in 2000 but had failed to materialize - in spite of six supplementary contracts that pushed the total cost up to 202 million euros instead of the original 128 million euros - so that Greece was penalized by the European Commission in 2003 with the loss of 30 million euros in EU funding.

    Questioned about the fact that reporters had only been notified about the visit at 6:00 on Thursday, Antonaros said only that the ?Prime Minister makes public appearances and all journalists are welcome?.

    Caption: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis (left) and Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias (right) boarded a ferry on Thursday, June 7, 2007 in order to visit the sewage treatment works on the islet of Psyttalia in the Saronic Gulf, where a new sludge-drying plant went into operation on June 1 the same year. ANA-MPA/Pantelis Saitas.

    [02] Bakoyannis to visit Middle East on Sunday

    Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will be in the Middle East from Sunday, June 10 for a succession of visits to Israel, Ramallah in the Palestinian territories, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos announced on Thursday.

    The minister's visit confirmed Greece's strong, continuing and active interest in the developments in the region, Koumoutsakos added.

    "The visit is planned during a crucial period of the region. Tension between the Palestinians and Israelis, the situation in Lebanon and the region in general, justifies the worry and concern of the international community. Greece believes that efforts must be intensified to re-initiate a comprehensive peace effort, it sees an important role for the European Union and is acting in this direction," he told reporters.

    Asked whether the minister would raise issues connected to the Jerusalem Patriarchate during her meetings with the region's leadership, Koumoutsakos said the talks would chiefly focus on issues concerning peace and stability, while adding that the issue was expected to be raised "in meetings with Israeli authorities" which had still not officially recognised the new Jerusalem Patriarch Theophilos.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis.

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