‘They could use mock ammunition’

Ioanna Ilioupoulou-Georgoudaki, professor of environmental management at Patras University, explains that there is a solution, if the authorities are willing to implement it. Do you believe the pollution is caused by the firing range? War and war exercises are a source of pollution all over the planet. In this area, the currents help pollutants accumulate. The measurements which were taken – though without following the official protocol, which demands special handling of the sample from collection until analysis – provide worrying indications of pollution in the area. Sources of pollution must be sought, but in this area there is no other activity apart from the firing range that could cause pollution by heavy metals. Research is needed but funding has been sought for two years. Were the levels found in the fish truly worrying? Even though the method applied was not scientifically perfect, the concentrations were extremely worrying. There were high concentrations in the muscles and not only in the liver, where they are usually found, which means a very high concentration of heavy metals. Do firing ranges have waste management systems? We don’t know exactly how they manage the very toxic materials they use. In peacetime, firing practice seriously affects the environment, because it leave behind huge amounts of toxic materials. But the Defense Ministry deems the operation of the firing range to be essential… They could use mock ammunition during exercises, to avoid using vast amounts of toxic materials. The environment is the essential underpinning of human existence. We cannot make plans without taking this factor into account. We are behaving self-destructively. Areas polluted by toxic waste need more than 100 years to become clean again.

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