Industries and businesses are fined

In the three years since they began work, environmental inspectors have imposed fines of over 10 million euros, mostly on industries and tourism installations. Since early 2004, the service has carried out over 600 inspections and recorded about 900 violations of environmental and zoning legislation. Releasing its data on Tuesday, the Environment and Public Works Ministry accused local government bodies of not doing their job properly – as it is they who are supposed to be monitoring most of the installations fined. Since the beginning of 2004, the ministry inspectors found 304 violations of the code at 606 sites inspected, and proposed fines of a total 10,284,000 euros. Most of the inspections were in Attica (228), 72 in Viotia, 43 in Thessaloniki, 24 each in Ioannina and Evia. Nearly half were at factories. Most of the violations involved a failure to furnish environmental permits, illegal dumping of waste, a failure to install anti-pollution equipment and illegal construction. The highest fines were 1 million euros, imposed on each of two quarries operating illegally in Markopoulo in 2006. Other fines were imposed on the Public Power Corporation, the S&B firm on the island of Milos, Thessaly Steelworks, Athens International Airport, Hellenic Petroleum and Larco, among others. All those fined have appealed against them to the courts. The ministry claims that the fines are eventually paid, albeit in part. According to the law, all fines are paid to the local tax department. «The inspectors cannot take the place of those who are chiefly responsible for the ongoing monitoring of the environmental laws,» said Minister Giorgos Souflias in a criticism of local government. «In most cases they themselves, that is the municipalities, prefectures and regions, are the authorities that issued the operating licenses to the businesses concerned.»