Talks to focus on dirty water

The Municipality of Oinofyta, north of Athens, is expected to hold talks today with the Athens and Piraeus Water Company (EYDAP) and the Environment Ministry in a bid to find a solution to the area’s water problems. Recent data from the General Chemical State Laboratory have shown higher-than-expected levels of carcinogenic depleted chromium in water samples taken from the Asopos River, which supplies Oinofyta households with drinking water. Today’s meeting with EYDAP is expected to focus on connecting the area to the same network that supplies water to the capital. A plan which could take up to two years to complete. Local government officials have said that the situation is more urgent and that a quicker solution is needed. «If they don’t give us a solution, we will cut off the water. Their responsibilities are considerable,» said Oinofyta Deputy Mayor Michalis Gialouris. Other data have shown that 32 percent of deaths in the area are cancer-related, while in 1989 the figure stood at 6 percent. The issue was discussed in Parliament yesterday as Viotia-based PASOK MP Vassilis Togias described the situation as a «social crime,» calling for the area to be placed under a state of emergency. «Some 20 percent of Greece’s industrial output is concentrated in the region (of the Asopos River). Most of the industrial plants, if not all, do not have water treatment facilities and this results in the pollution of the river,» said Togias. «Despite the fact that fines are being imposed, they are so low that company owners prefer to pay them and continue to break the law,» he added. Apportioning blame to officials might be a lengthy process, since reports show the government was aware of the problem nearly 10 years ago. In a 1998 report, a parliamentary environment committee outlined the measures that would have to be taken to protect the quality of the water in the river. None of the measures have since been implemented.