In another environmental disaster, following the death of some 28,000 birds in northern Greece, untreated factory waste has killed thousands of fish in an irrigation channel that runs from the Pineios River in central Greece, officials said yesterday. Authorities ordered a fruit-processing plant to shut down while the matter is examined further. This comes in the wake of the Lake Koroneia disaster, in which scientists are still struggling to explain what killed so many birds. Thessaloniki officials warned that people, especially small children, and animals should stay away from the lake until more is known about the cause of the deaths. Toxins caused by pollution are suspected but lab tests have proved inconclusive so far. In the latest incident, the channel in which the fish died runs from the Pineios through farmland in the prefecture of Larissa. It is used for irrigation purposes by local farmers, causing concern that the factory’s waste could affect crops. The farmers began to notice the dead fish 10 days ago and notified the prefecture’s environmental health department. «The problem is related to the waste that runs into this drainage ditch,» said Nikos Koutsoyiannis, deputy prefect of Larissa responsible for environmental matters. Koutsoyiannis ordered the factory responsible to suspend operations last Friday. Experts took dead fish and water samples away for testing. «Preliminary tests show there are no problems for irrigation and cultivation,» said Koutsoyiannis. According to law, all businesses are required to treat their waste but local authorities say a similar pollution problem occurs every year. «It’s a common secret that impunity and corruption rule,» said Giorgos Ladopoulos, president of TOEVP, the organization which manages the Pineios’s irrigation channels.