Environmental inaction slammed

The government’s environmental record came under attack again yesterday over its alleged failure to tackle the pollution of the Asopos River and failure by Public Works and Environment Minister Giorgos Souflias to appear at an international climate change conference in Athens. The Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE) slammed what it sees as the failure by authorities to ensure that the Asopos River, which supplies millions of Athenians with drinking water, is not polluted any further by the factories that operate in Oinofyta, north of Athens. «The industrial area is developing without any structure,» the president of the local TEE branch, Stelios Zacharopoulos, told Kathimerini. «The state is not doing anything to get a picture of the environmental problem concerning the Asopos so that it can ascertain the sources of pollution, in other words, which areas have been polluted and by what.» Tests carried out by the Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration (IGME) in February indicated high levels of chromium, arsenic and lead. The central water committee of the Environment and Public Works Ministry, which commissioned the study, played down the findings. TEE claims that the Environment Ministry is not doing anything to help local authorities combat the problem. IGME yesterday accused the ministry of «burying» its test results. One of the institute’s hydrologists, Haris Smyrniotis, claimed yesterday that industrial waste is now being dumped some 5-10 kilometers away from the area where the factories are located but is washed into the river when it rains. Meanwhile, the environment minister failed to take part in a conference yesterday on climate change that was organized by Skai, Kathimerini and the Danish Embassy in Athens. Souflias’s deputy, Stavros Kaloyiannis, also failed to appear at the event, during which Denmark’s Troels Lund Poulsen explained how his country has been able to become more environmentally friendly without it affecting economic growth.