Jet-setter Greek island of Mykonos drowns in garbage

DPA Athens | Updated on July 24, 2013 Published on July 24, 2013

Visitors to the Greek island of Mykonos, known for attracting the wealthy and glamorous, were in for a smelly surprise on Wednesday after more than 80 tonnes of garbage accumulated in bins and open dumps across the island because of a lack of rubbish collectors.

Dumpsters were overflowing with garbage, and the smell was intense as temperatures soared above 35 degrees.

Budget cuts have affected both the poor and the rich across the South-Eastern European country. Austerity measures that followed debt-stricken Greece’s international bailouts led to layoffs of trash collectors on the island, and not enough are left to deal with the mounting refuse.

The island’s mayor, Irini Gypari, said that besides a lack of garbage collectors, there are also not enough trucks to pick up the waste.

She said the island in the Cyclades “requested the hiring of 39 seasonal employees and more trucks months ago, but the request has yet to materialise.” The mayor said the situation is worse during the summer when thousands of tourists and owners of luxury villas flock to the Aegean island.

On top of it all, Mykonos lacks a landfill, and its illegal dump is rated among the worst on the Greek islands.

“We do not have a sanitary landfill but a garbage dump, which does not even meet the minimum standards and European Union directives and constitutes a risk for the environment,” Deputy Regional Governor Tzortzis Makryonotis said.

“The owners of the villas throw away whatever you can imagine in the dumpsters from broken sofas, mattresses, fridges and cleaners for their swimming pools to empty champagne bottles from their parties,” Gypari said.

“Unfortunately, there is no space to dispose of such materials, but they do not understand this,” she said.

Published on July 24, 2013
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