Peloponnese radiation threat

Air radiation levels in a small central Peloponnesian village are over four times higher than they should be, as a result of pollution from one of Greece’s biggest power plants, a National Technical University study has shown. According to research carried out by the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) – air radiation levels in the area of Valtetsi, a village 11 kilometers southwest of Tripolis, reach 180 Becquerels per 10 seconds, while the natural radiation level is 40 Beq/10sec. This is due to ash from the lignite-processing plant on the outskirts of Megalopolis, some 15 kilometers from Valtetsi. The NTUA study was commissioned by the Valtetsi municipal authorities after local residents repeatedly complained about airborne pollution from the plant. «Calculations show that the burning of 12,500,000 tons of lignite every year produces 2,000-2,500 tons of ash, some of which escapes into the atmosphere,» the report said. «Earlier research has shown that the airborne ash contains radioactive isotopes that belong to the Uranium group.» It said measurements had shown that «air radiation is excessively higher than the highest levels of natural radiation. At points, the quantity of radioisotopes was so high as to put our counters out of order.» And the report noted that radioisotopes were finding their way into the local food chain, «and can cause severe problems to the production of fruit and vegetables, as well as to animal breeding.» The Development Ministry’s Atomic Energy Committee, when presented with the findings of the study, claimed that the methods used were scientifically unsound, adding that radiation levels near megalopolis are «entirely natural.»