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Massive debris piles from terrifying Greek floods cause environmental fears

Evangelo Sipsas


Massive piles of debris have been left behind in central Greece as flood waters subside from heavy rain last September. The residue, much of it believed to be toxic, is equal to the amount of rubbish normally produced by the whole country in a year.

Huge piles of water-logged household items are among the debris littering the country's Thessaly region.

In September Central Greece was hit by Storm Daniel, the most powerful such event the country has ever seen. It's believed that over a meter of rain fell in a matter of 48 hours, flooding most of the Thessaly region. At least 15 people were killed, thousands were left homeless, and billions of dollars worth of damage was caused.

It also left behind tons of ruined furniture and belongings, creating an unprecedented mountain of waste that authorities in the two cities of Trikala and Karditsa are struggling to tackle.

"It is estimated that from both Trikala and Karditsa, the quantities of waste are as much as the waste during one year for the whole country," mayor of Trikala and the head of the region's management agency, Nikos Sakkas, told CGTN. "The destruction was total, and large volumes of household waste have accumulated. The solution was to deposit this waste in the landfill and I think we are managing very well."

It's estimated that over 70,000 tons of waste is being transferred by trucks to several landfills in the region of Thessaly. Authorities say that this is the best way of dealing with such large amounts. But environmental groups are questioning this reasoning, suggesting it's beyond the state's power to deal with such an issue.

"The state mechanism that exists to date for waste management prevents (waste disposal experts) from properly separating recycled and toxic materials," environmental NGO Group Save Your Hood founder Vassilis Sfakianopoulos told CGTN. "A solution that we think would work, but the government will have to dig deep into their pockets, is to outsource that part to private companies that have the know-how and the technology to deal with toxic materials much better than the state can."

While authorities and environmental groups disagree on how to remove the waste and the best way to dispose of it, residents are doing their best to salvage anything they can. For many the piles of debris remind them that they once had a normal life there.

Massive debris piles from terrifying Greek floods cause environmental fears

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