An unprecedented incident occurred on Saturday, June 6, when fire broke out at a recycling company in Aspropyrgos, Greece. The fire is still burning, however, the Greek Fire Department has the situation under control. They are trying to avoid the risk of expansion by constantly throwing water in the fire to lower the temperature.
On Tuesday, June 9, Greek authorities arrested the person who was temporarily responsible for the company for infringing on environmental protection legislation, while the company’s President and CEO of the company, is accused of the same offenses, and is currently wanted by the police. Furthermore, during an investigation of the premises, the police officers found oil cans, car tires and packages of medicines, for which the company was not licensed.
The state’s response to the incident was delays, given that the Environment Ministry meeting for the assessment of the situation took place on Tuesday, four days after the fire first broke out. Meanwhile, the south and western suburbs of Attica are covered by a toxic cloud since Saturday evening and the residents are concerned about the black cloud that darkened the heavy atmosphere.
The meeting was attended by the Minister of Production Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Panagiotis Lafazanis, as well as the Deputy Minister of Production Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Giannis Tsironis and representatives of other ministries and agencies.
Furthermore, the Greek Ministry of Health’s response was also delayed. Four days after the initial fire, the ministry issued recommendations for citizens, proposing the closure of public or private nurseries, kindergarten, as well as primary and secondary schools in Aspropyrgos. However, most schools opened regularly on Wednesday, as many students were not aware of the news, while others only attended one hour and were sent home later.
At the same time, the Region of Attica proceeded to release pollution index readings, reassuring citizens, even though the first test results showed elevated levels of harmful gases and particulates, mainly in the area of Aspropyrgos. “Early indications show that emissions are 10 times more than normal,” stressed the Deputy Head of Western Attica, Giannis Vasileiou.