Illegal quarries are still operating

Two quarries in Markopoulo, east of Athens, which were shut down last year for environmental reasons, are still operating, according to aerial footage obtained by Skai TV yesterday. Shots from Skai’s helicopter showed people working at the quarries, mining machines operating and trucks transporting material. Last August, a year after Greece’s highest administrative court issued its ruling, officials from the Prefecture of Eastern Attica supposedly shut down the two mines. The Council of State ruled that the Latomeia Markopoulou and Stavrou Latomeia quarries should cease operations because they were damaging the local environment and residents’ health. However, it appears that authorities are unable to ensure that the quarries remain shut. «We have sealed the mining machinery,» Eastern Attica Prefect Leonidas Kouris told Kathimerini. «Everything else is the responsibility of the regional authority and the police. The Attica Regional Authority should seize any materials that have been mined, while the police are responsible for enforcing the court’s decision. «In any case, we are all waiting for the Council of State to issue its decision on the appeal against its ruling.» In November 2006, the Public Works and Environment Ministry fined the two quarrying firms a total of 2 million euros for violating environmental laws in the largest penalty imposed for this type of violation. A study by the Athens Observatory found that dust particles emitted by the quarrying meant that the air pollution in Markopoulo was equal to that in the most heavily polluted parts of Athens.