Roma smoke out residents

Around 300 demonstrators gathered outside the Tavros Municipality offices in southern Athens yesterday to protest against a group of Roma burning rubber cables in the area so they can sell the copper inside. Residents said the burning process has created a health hazard for the area, creating a permanent cloud of toxic smoke. «We are being poisoned every day. We shouldn’t breathe the poison from the burnt cables that release dioxins and furan,» said Eva Zimaraki, the head of a local group formed to protest against the environmental problem. «Residents are complaining of dizzy spells, headaches and breathing problems,» she added. Protesters said the problem has been growing over the last two years as the Roma supply the local metal collection businesses with the copper. The Environment Ministry has said the practice of burning the cables can release into the atmosphere «very toxic pollution» and that it is «especially dangerous.»

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