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Cyprus

Turning Vasiliko into tyre dumping ground ‘recipe for disaster’

Environment Commissioner Ioanna Panayiotou

THE nine communities of the Vasilikos area near Limassol, warned on Wednesday that they would not allow thousands of old tyres to be moved to their area and expressed fears of becoming the dumping site of the island.

The coordinating committee of the nine communities issued an announcement saying that they opposed the government decision to move 4,500 tons of used tyres stockpiled at the Latouros quarry near Dali, outside Nicosia, to a site at the Vasiliko cement factory.

The decision was announced on Tuesday by Environment commissioner Ioanna Panayiotou following a meeting chaired by President Nicos Anastasiades. Panayiotou said that it was decided that the tyres would be taken to a safe area of Vasiliko and the government would foot the bill.

Moving the tyres – which had been dumped at the quarry after been collected from tyre merchants around Nicosia – was deemed necessary, as, if they caught fire they would cause severe air pollution.

The united communities, that threatened with protests to overturn that decision, posed the question of why the tyres would pose a safety hazard at their present site but not in their area, where there are “so many operating establishments”.

The Vasiliko area is host the VTTV oil depot, the electricity authority (EAC) power station, the Evangelos Florakis naval base and a cement factory.

“Our fears that our area will become the dumping cite of Cyprus are verified, and this is why we were not invited to the meeting at the Presidential Palace,” the group said.

The coordinating committee said that it would seek the suspension of any licensing in their area until final decisions are made by the state, “taking into account our own suggestions regarding the energy hub and the consent of the nine communities”.

The government master plan for the sprawling energy centre provides for a liquefied natural gas terminal, fuel storage tanks, a privately-owned electricity station and other industrial facilities – all concentrated within an area of 25 square kilometres.

Locals have been repeatedly warning that piling up all these facilities side by side is a recipe for disaster. They cite as an example the July 2011 explosion at the nearby Mari naval base, which killed 13 seamen and firefighters, took out the Vasilikos power station and caused hundreds of millions in damage.

The group said that they would write to Anastasiades asking for a meeting to discuss the problems concerning the Vasilikos area. They would also request a meeting with Panayiotou and all competent state services.

Even though a fire broke out at Vasiliko earlier this month caused by huge piles of tyres near the cement factory, Panayiotou said that the area where the tyres will be taken to is safe “and in the future things will be handled correctly”.

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