NEWS

EU urged to act on lake deaths

A Greek Euro MP yesterday urged the European Commission to launch an urgent investigation into the ecological catastrophe at Lake Koroneia in northern Greece, where thousands of waterfowl have been found dead over the past few days. Thessaloniki University scientists had still to establish the precise cause of the disaster yesterday, though pollution, from pesticides and urban and industrial waste, is a strong contender. Experts suspect the pollution has caused a rapid increase in toxin-producing bacteria in the lake’s invertebrates – the birds’ main source of food. Noting that the Koroneia bird habitat is one of the most important in the country, Synaspismos Left Coalition MEP Dimitris Papadimoulis called on the European Union’s executive body to establish who is to blame for the mass deaths. He also asked the Commission what action it would take to ensure that the heavily polluted lake, which lies some 20km east of Thessaloniki, is cleaned up, and that this kind of disaster does not recur. Although the precise death toll – the corpses gathered so far include rare Dalmatian pelicans, shovelers, avocets, black-winged stilts, gulls and even an Arctic tern – is unknown, some estimates place the final figure at around 15,000. Papadimoulis yesterday said 7,000 deaths had been verified so far. No official figures have been announced. The government yesterday decided to provide Thessaloniki prefecture officials with 25,000 euros to buy devices that fire blanks, which will be installed around the lake in a bid to frighten away the surviving waterfowl. However, it is unclear how long that process may take. The Commission said in January it was taking Greece to court for failing to protect Koroneia, whose entire fish population was wiped out by pollution in 1995.