Authorities snub quarry ruling

Despite a court ruling ordering work at two quarries in Markopoulo, east of Athens, to stop, residents woke to the sound of explosions yesterday and local authorities shunned the responsibility of enforcing the decision. The Council of State ruling, made public on Wednesday, instructed the two companies mining the mountain to stop all their work immediately. The decision by Greece’s highest administrative court, which was initially made known in May, reversed a decision by the Regional Authority of Attica which allowed work at the quarries to continue. Mining at the quarries has been taking place for the last 33 years, much to the anger of residents, who are unhappy about the dust produced by the digging. A recent study by the Athens Observatory found the dust particles emitted by the mining meant that the air pollution in Markopoulo was equal to that in the most heavily polluted parts of Athens. Locals are also annoyed at being woken by early morning dynamite explosions. One resident told Kathimerini that the explosions began at 4 a.m. yesterday, shaking his house and waking his family. Local authorities, however, appear to have no intention of enforcing the court’s decision. Eastern Attica Prefect Leonidas Kouris told Kathimerini that he was unaware of the ruling as it had not arrived at his office yet. In any case, he said, the Regional Authority of Attica was responsible for overseeing the quarries. The authority’s general secretary, Haralambos Maniatis, however, told Kathimerini that the prefecture was responsible for making sure the mining companies abide by the ruling.