Residents protest ‘toxic’ water

Thousands of people in two small communities – on the island of Evia and in the northern prefecture of Serres – are pressing authorities to guarantee the cleanliness of local drinking water after tests revealed high traces of hexavalent chromium and other toxic chemicals. Inspectors from the Environment and Public Works Ministry visited the municipality of Messapia on Evia yesterday to conduct fresh tests on water samples. Meanwhile, a senior official of the municipal water and sewage authority insisted that there was no public health risk. «Residents of Messapia have not drunk a drop of unsuitable water,» the official told Kathimerini. The deputy mayor of Messavia, Yiannis Roubis, said that water containing significantly high traces of hexavalent chromium – 50 micrograms per liter as compared to the maximum safe level of 10 mg/per liter – had been found following tests on water bores in the area of Gogoepikoos. «We located these sources and removed them from the water network,» Roubis said. He added that local authorities suspected that manufacturers in the industrialized Oinofyta area, north of Attica, where water has repeatedly tested positive for hexavalent chromium, had been dumping toxic waste on Evia. Residents of Oinofyta in May complained that their taps were still running with brown, smelly water despite government assurances that their water supply would be purified. On Evia, as concerned locals pressed on with their protests, the municipal council yesterday struck a cautious stance, promising daily inspections on local water. Meanwhile, in the region of Flambouro in Serres, the water running from local taps contains enhanced levels of the heavy metal arsenic, according to the results of laboratory tests. Specifically, samples of the water tested contained up to 17 micrograms of arsenic per liter as compared to the maximum safe level of 10 mg/per liter.