It was dumbfounding to hear the transport minister Marios Demetriades say on Monday that the authorities had no idea what’s causing persistent pollution along the Limassol coastline. And, not only did the authorities not know, according to Demetriades “no one knows” where this pollution is coming from.
It was an odd statement to make for two reasons. One is that this pollution has been going on for some time, which raises the question of how long does it take to test water samples to figure out what the pollutants are, which logically would point to a source? The second is that seemingly inconvenient report by the University of Technology (Tepak) which has been around for more than two years stating precisely what the problem was.
According to the report by professor Costas Costa, Limassol port’s anchorage is the main source of pollution along the city’s coast. This conclusion was reached after laboratory testing. Ships temporarily anchored at the Limassol port appeared to be a major source of waste in the area. He sent his conclusions and recommendations to Limassol mayor Nicos Nicolaides but they were not adopted he told the Cyprus News Agency.
After the study was concluded, various meetings were held, both by the Limassol municipality and the transport ministry, where the findings and recommendations were discussed. None of the study’s conclusions were challenged at any of these meetings, according to the professor.
The report alleged that a company with a licence to collect ‘oil sludge’ from ships in Limassol port or anchorage appeared to also collect waste from the ships without being licensed to do so. While no one knew what the company did with the waste it collected, Costa claimed that stakeholders told him that, at least in some cases, it simply disposed of the waste in the sea, metres away from the anchorage.
Interestingly, Costa told CNA that Nicolaides’ predecessor Andreas Christou had asked that the study not be made public, with anyone requesting to see it being referred to the municipality.
The current transport minister’s comments that the pollution “could be” either from deep within the sea, from ships or recreation boats, is disingenuous at the very least, and begs the question: why the deflection to the realms of “no one knows” what’s causing it?
Perhaps Demetriades should acquaint himself with the definition of Occam’s razor: the simplest or most obvious answer is usually the correct one. In this case we’re dealing with a port full of ships producing waste, therefore that would appear to be the main culprit, which is backed up by a university scientific study.
The minister’s condescending remarks that “no one knows”, and “we must all be patient”, coupled with the previous mayor’s attempts to keep the study from the public eye, just raise suspicions that something else is going on.