The Asopos River, from which thousands of residents north of Attica draw their drinking water, is heavily polluted with toxic chemicals, according to recent laboratory tests whose results were made public yesterday. The tests, carried out by the Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration (IGME) in February, indicate high levels of chromium, arsenic and lead. But the central water committee of the Environment and Public Works Ministry, which commissioned the study, yesterday played down the findings. Responding to questions submitted by a group of environmental organizations, the committee said the tests had been conducted «on too small a sample to be representative» and called for fresh tests. «Instead of taking badly needed action, they have ordered a study of the study,» said Nikos Constantopoulos, a lawyer representing the group. A former ministry inspector is on trial for criticizing the ministry’s alleged failure to protect the river from pollution.