Day after fire, checks launched

Experts started conducting tests at Lavrion, southeast of Athens, yesterday to determine the environmental damage caused by Wednesday’s fire at a solvents factory, as local officials accused the plant of operating illegally. The fire at the Hima factory created a massive toxic black cloud that covered Lavrion, while it took firefighters nearly 24 hours to get the blaze under control. Tests on the earth and the local water network were being conducted by Health Ministry officials with results expected in five days. Initial inspections of air-pollution levels yesterday showed that they were within legal limits. Eastern Attica Prefect Leonidas Kouris told Kathimerini that after checks by prefectural inspectors in the fall it was found that Hima had forged permits for four chemical tanks, out of a total of 42. «The issue had then been referred to a prosecutor for legal procedures to be launched and for the imposition of penalties,» said Kouris.