Burned plant still toxic, say activists

Burned plant still toxic, say activists

More than eight months after a large fire broke out at a recycling plant in Aspropyrgos, southwest of Athens, spewing toxic fumes into the atmosphere, community activists claim that the site is unguarded and being used as an illegal dump for dangerous materials.

“We have seen piles of waste that was dumped after the fire, among which there are quantities of asbestos,” Tasos Kefalas, a member of the Protovoulia Synenoisis community movement tells Kathimerini, adding that something is still burning on the site.

The fire broke out at the privately owned recycling plant on June 6, burning plastics and other recyclable material for over a week. The company that managed it was fined 5 million euros, to be paid into the Environment Ministry’s Green Fund for the site’s rehabilitation, but has declared bankruptcy and may be exempted from payment.

Western Attica Deputy Regional Governor Yiannis Vasiliou, meanwhile, denies that the original fire has not been extinguished, though he concedes that the site is unguarded and may be used to dump or burn waste illegally. “The Green Fund has approved 5 million euros for the site’s clearance and rehabilitation. The amount is equal to the fine that the company has to pay, but we won’t wait for that to happen,” Vasiliou said, adding that the Attica Regional Authority plans to launch a tender for the clean-up project.

Vasiliou said that experts who have investigated the site found no signs of toxic material. However, he added, “There are massive piles of waste, maybe as much as 60,000 tons, so we can’t be entirely sure of what we’ll find underneath.”

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