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Landfill construction in Keratea, Athens


Description:

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 [1].

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 [3].

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 [4].

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 [5]. 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. [6].

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 [7].

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Landfill construction in Keratea, Athens
Country:Greece
State or province:Attiki
Location of conflict:Keratea
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Land acquisition conflicts
Waste privatisation conflicts / waste-picker access to waste
Specific commodities:Domestic municipal waste
Electricity

Project Details and Actors

Project details

In the total area of 54 hectares it was planned to be constructed: a) a Recycling Sorting Plant of 72,500 t/y capacity in an area of 0.5 hectares, b) a Composting Plant of 40,000 t/y capacity in an area of 0.4 hectares, c) a pre-processing unit (organic drying) of 127,500 t/y capacity in a surface of 0.4 hectares, and d) a Sanitary Landfil of Wastes or Residues, of 127,500 t/y, (total capacity 4.2 million m3 in a surface of 17 hectares, e) infrastructure works, streets, etc

Project area:54
Level of Investment:15,810,787 (Budget); 14,992,060 (amount in the contract)
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:7,493 (City of Keratea) 25,102 (Municipality of Lavreotiki) 3,812,330 (Attica Region)
Start of the conflict:08/06/2008
Company names or state enterprises:MESOGEOS S.A. from Greece
PROET S.A. from Greece
EDRACO S.A. (Member of Edrasis - C. Psallidas S.A. from Greece
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change; Regional Authority of Attica; Association of Municipalities and Communities of Attica; Solid Waste Management Body of Attica Region
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Trade Unions, environmental grassroots, municipal parties, civil society organizations

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Pastoralists
Social movements
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Blockades
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Strikes
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Refusal of compensation

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Fires, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Air pollution, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Noise pollution, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment

Outcome

Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Negotiated alternative solution
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Project temporarily suspended
Criminalization of activists
Repression
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Violent targeting of activists
Land demarcation
Development of alternatives:Several alternatives were presented: environmental NGOs and civil society groups (PROSYNAT) proposed different plans for decentralized waste management in Attica region, comprising reduction of waste production, reuse and recycling. Municipality of Lavreotiki and Keratea residents proposed a plan for smaller quantities of wastes and a different location for the sanitary landfill. Today, following the changes in the head of Regional Authority of Attica, of the Solid Waste Management Body of Attica Region and the Ministry of Environment, new plans are expected to be presented by the competent authorities.
[8, 9, 10, 7 ]
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Waste management is a difficult issue in Greece. Local communities react to the implementation of landfills and recycling plants, as the inadequate functioning of similar plants in different areas of Greece, and especially of Attica Region, downgraded the areas where they are located and provoke serious environmental problems. Central government planned waste management projects without any prior public consultation with local societies, and there were reactions, it blamed them for the syndrome “not in my backyard”. In Keratea the project was suspended, but the plans for the waste management in Attica region are not yet specified.

Sources & Materials

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[3] Assimacoupoulou G. and Sipsas K., 2011, Comments on the validity of the new Joint Ministerial Decisions, approving waste management plants’ environmental conditions in Western Attica
http://antixyta.blogspot.gr/2011/02/blog-post_26.html

[5] PROSYNAT (Communication Initiative for Waste Management), 2012, The Council of State pave the way for new projects in Attica
http://prosynat.blogspot.gr/2012/01/blog-post_2424.html

[6] Mpournous M., 2012, Waste Management - "gold" gift to "buddies" with our "money"
http://antixyta.blogspot.gr/2012/11/blog-post_10.html

Le Monde, 2011, Greek protest over planned landfill site
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/apr/19/keratea-greece-protests-landfill-salles#tabs-popular-2

[4] Lialios G., 2014, Problems and local society reactions since 1977
http://www.kathimerini.gr/786918/article/epikairothta/ellada/provlhmata-kai-topikes-antidraseis-apo-to-1977

Indymedia (Greece), 2011, Background: the Mass Resistance movement in Keratea-Lavreotiki, Greece
https://revolutionaryfrontlines.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/background-the-mass-resistance-movement-in-keratea-lavreotiki-greece-3/

[2] Papakonstantinou A. interview to Rossio A., 2011, The truth for sanitary landfill of wastes in Keratea
http://www.forkeratea.com/2011/02/blog-post_4720.html

[1] Accardo N., 2011, The attican landfill war: a load of trash?
http://www.cafebabel.co.uk/culture/article/the-attican-landfill-war-a-load-of-trash.html

[10] Econews, 2011, Waste landfill in Keratea: Municipality of Lavreotiki proposed new location
http://www.econews.gr/2011/05/30/xyta-kerateas-dimos-lavrewtikis/

[7] PROSYNAT, 2015, One step forward, two steps back…
http://prosynat.blogspot.gr/2015/02/blog-post.html

[8] PROSYNAT, 2014, PROSYNAT proposal for revision of the Attica’s Regional Waste Management Plant
http://prosynat.blogspot.gr/2014/11/blog-post_24.html

[9] Kirkitsos Ph., Ecological Recycling Society, 2012, Green proposal for Attica’s Waste Management
http://ecorec.gr/ecorec/files/pdf/Prasini_Protasi_PESDA_Attikis.pdf

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Contrasts, 2011, Keratea High School
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plb0xZLqLag

News broadcast on the clashes between Keratea residents and riot police, 2010
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeipl2Jq7Bo

Keratea Art Resistance Festival, 2011
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkMGYEph_QY

No sanitary landfill in Lavreotiki, 2010
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DpeJ7dgepc

128 days at the roadblocks, independent production, that started a few weeks after the invasion of the riot police in Ovriokastro and Keratea and it was completed in January 2013.
https://vimeo.com/63595263

Exclusion criteria, 2010, it refers to the exclusion criteria for siting the landfill in the Archaeological Site of Ovriokastro, Keratea and they were completely ignored
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUavUKeBfzo#t=174

Meta information

Contributor:Ermioni Frezouli, Geography Department - Harokopio University Athens (HUA).
Last update09/07/2015

Images

 

Keratea residents demonstration

 

Road closure by Keratea Residents

 

 

Kerateas Art Resistance Festival Poster

 

Clashes between residents and riot police

 

Clashes between residents and riot police

 

Keratea residents demonstration