Solvents industry slow on safety

Less than two weeks after a fire at a solvents plant in Lavrion, southeast of Athens, raised serious issues about safety in the chemicals sector, experts have accused the government of failing to regulate the industry. A Greek law passed in 2003 specifies that chemical plants are required to compose a document that addresses safety issues through means such as an outline of the facility’s structure, the equipment on hand and the training of staff. The deadline for such adjustments passed in June, but government officials have not checked to see which companies are in compliance. Constantinos Kremalis, a Technical Chamber of Commerce member and labor law expert who is investigating the Lavrion fire, said authorities have not yet recorded details from chemical plants. «In the past three years, [the government] should have recorded [information from] all the plants, small or large, and all chemical storage areas. This has not happened,» he said. Last month’s fire in Lavrion prompted a flurry of finger-pointing from the Environment and Development ministries as well as prefectural authorities. Each said the other was responsible for overseeing safety issues. «We see a delay in the assessment of security plans and the completion of plans for emergency measures,» said Evi Georgiadou, a chemical engineer from the Hellenic Institute of Occupational Health and Security.

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