Russia's 2014 Winter Olympics host Sochi is facing an apparently insurmountable problem over how to dispose of millions of tons of garbage with nowhere to put the waste, a report said Tuesday.
Not a single landfill in the Black Sea resort town is legal, and most sewage is dumped untreated into the sea, in some places only 50 meters from the beach, according to a presentation of the Audit Chamber quoted by the Vedomosti newspaper.
Sochi won the right to host the Games after a bid championed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. But its ambitions have long been dogged by concerns about whether the city will be able to build infrastructure for the showpiece.
"At the peak of construction, we will have about 5 million tons of garbage with no place to legally utilize it," Vedomosti reported auditor Mikhail Odintsov as saying.
The chamber was looking into federal spending of about 208 million rubles on environmental needs in Sochi in 2009. A full report is not available to the general public.
Olympic construction sites will need to dispose of some 817 thousand tons of construction debris by 2013, but there is no place to put them, not to mention millions of tons of household waste in the sprawling city.
In a letter sent to Putin by chief auditor Sergei Stepashin in May, the chamber recommended to take measures to take trash out of Sochi and treat it elsewhere.
"Measures taken by the Russian government to ensure environmental safety of the Olympic project do not solve problems of development in city of Sochi," Stepashin said in the letter, obtained by AFP through a regional environmental NGO the Environmental Watch on North Caucasus.
Although "zero waste" has been announced by the Sochi Organizing Committee as a priority in Olympic construction preparations, waste is already engulfing the Black Sea town.
One overflowing landfill was closed in January after a garbage landslide crashed into local houses and left five families homeless.
Facilities in Sochi need to be massively restored or built from scratch while the mountains that will stage the alpine events were until now an almost virgin area that had seen little development.
However both Russia and the International Olympic Committee have expressed confidence that the infrastructure will be built on time.