OPINION

PPC and citizens

The stance of Public Power Corporation (PPC) officials over the consequences stemming from the fire that broke out on Christmas Day at the second electric power generator at Aghios Dimitrios near Ptolemaida raises serious questions. Only yesterday, almost an entire month after the accident and under pressure from revelations, PPC was forced to admit that the capacitors destroyed contained a minimum of nine liters of polychlorinated biphenyl, or PCB, toxic liquid (chlophen-type). This substance was banned by the EEC in 1985 except when contained in products built before that date. PPC’s reaction was driven by an attempt to conceal the potential risks – a mentality that is alien to open societies. Dozens of employees were at the site when the explosion took place, but two weeks passed before they were sent for medical tests (which only included blood tests rather than thorough examinations). Furthermore, an entire month passed without informing the Democritos national center for scientific research, or any other scientific institution, over the incident so as to confirm whether the combustion of the toxic liquid caused any environmental damage. Some irresponsible individuals obviously thought that the more time passed before the news came out, the more the toxic material would be spaced out, making it more difficult to trace significant amounts. Basing its action on evaluations, expectations and hopes of its own scientific staff while at the same time resorting to time-consuming pronouncements by outside laboratories, PPC failed to inform the civil defense agency responsible for tackling the consequences of such an accident. This stance is unacceptable as it shows disregard for the citizens and for public health standards, subjecting these to machinations intended to disguise errors that could well entail grave consequences. It is to be wished that the accident has not caused any major harm. Even so, citizens deserve an answer from the State’s scientific bodies, and second, they know that if things did not go wrong this was attributable to their own good fortune rather than to the responsible actions of PPC officials. Moreover, if it is later proved that PPC had, in fact, informed some local or central state bodies of the incident and they actually failed to respond, then the problem is even greater. It’s rightful to defend the action of the state mechanism in case of emergency situations, but citizens’ views on this are shaped by results rather than intentions. The Council’s vision for a united European Cyprus laid out in its resolution in the form of steps that each side should take in their talks, could become a map for a Cyprus with a single European future.