Polluted water sources

The tendency of Greek manufacturers to discharge largely unprocessed toxic waste into the environment is wreaking irreversible damage upon our rivers, lakes and seas and shows no signs of abating despite European Union pressure, according to a report made public yesterday. The number of alleged environmental violations by factories and other industrial sites reached 90 last year, up 30 percent from 60 in 2004, according to the Hellenic Environmental Inspectorate (EYEP) which compiled the report and proposed the imposition of a total of 2.1 million euros in fines. Of the 145 checks conducted by the inspectorate last year, 43 percent were on manufacturers, 24 percent on waste-processing facilities and 6.5 percent on quarrying sites. The most common violations were inadequate waste processing (42.7 percent), the lack of a valid operating license (15.5 percent) and illegal activities in protected areas (10.9 percent). The report expressed concern about the quality of water in several rivers. The Asopos River in Viotia was the focus of 17 inspections last year, after dozens of manufacturers were found to be dumping waste near the riverside and creating large concentrations of chromium, lead and nitrates – all potentially carcinogenic. The inspectorate’s report also refers to excessive levels of chromium in water wells in Koropi, eastern Attica. Checks were conducted on the wells in the wake of complaints received by the inspectorate about sheep dying after drinking polluted water. Another focus of the report is the Kalamas River in Thesprotia, described as a «sewer pipe» for the Ioannina prefecture. Local manufacturers have been fined. The heavily industrialized Thracian Plain also comes under fire in the report for lacking an adequate waste-disposal system for some 120,000 residents in four municipalities. The report also mentions Athens International Airport – for allegedly failing to adequately process its waste before discharging it.