Absence of pollution policy

European Commissioner for the Environment Margot Wallstrom has condemned Greece’s record in fighting atmospheric pollution and said the Commission is expected to send Greece a «reasoned opinion» due to its failure to comply with directives on levels of benzene and carbon monoxide in the atmosphere and regarding the nation’s thresholds for emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants. In response to a question by New Democracy Euro MP Antonis Trakatellis, Wallstrom noted the lack of any policy on the part of the Greek government to deal with excessive concentrations of dangerous particles and ozone in the atmosphere of Greece’s major cities. As for PM 10 particles, with a diameter of less than 10 micrometers, Wallstrom said that concentrations in Attica ranged from 50-70 micrograms per cubic centimeter of atmosphere, although the European Union has set the tolerance level at 46 micrograms. Meanwhile, many monitoring stations recorded levels of suspended particles as high as 64 micrograms per cubic meter on 116 days in 2002. As for concentrations of ozone, between April and August 2002, maximum concentration recorded over one hour were far higher than 200 micrograms per cubic meter, and in some cases as high as 316. According to this year’s «Atmospheric Pollution and Ozone in Europe» report, about 17 percent of monitoring stations recorded levels in excess of the threshold of 240 micrograms per cubic meter. Greece has also been criticized for not submitting any evidence to show that excessive recordings of some pollutants were due to natural phenomena, nor any national programs to show how it plans to bring pollution levels down to within permitted limits.