Cyprus Mail

Vasiliko responds after minister said big number of stored tyres contributed to fire (Updated)

Τελική κατάσβεση της πυρκαγιάς στο λατομείο στο Μαρί
Photo: CNA

By Antigoni Pita and Gina Agapiou

Vasiliko cement works on Wednesday said it processed 4.5 million tyres between 2016-2021 after Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis referred to an overloaded tyre storage area at Vasiliko which may have contributed to Saturday’s fire.

The fire broke out on Saturday afternoon in an open area filled with old tyres between the villages of Kalavasos and Mari producing thick black smoke.

It took eight fire engines and a team of 25 firefighters working around the clock to bring the fire under control by midnight.

Enerco Energy Recovery Ltd, a company affiliated with the Vasiliko cement factory, has said the fire was caused by a mobile shredder at a time when it was being used by their staff. It said the employees who were working with the shredder at the time of the fire “took all the appropriate actions”.

In an announcement late on Wednesday, the Vasiliko cement factory and Enerco said a full investigation of the fire in ongoing and “with respect to the relevant agencies, we will not make a public comment on the incident until the investigation is complete”.

But added that “the management of all kinds of waste involves certain risks” and that they issued the announcement to clarify some “inaccuracies” that have been published regarding the incident.

Earlier in the day, Kadis hinted the environment department’s report on the fire showed that too many tyres were being stored at the facility. This is despite the fact that the director of the environment department, Costas Hadjipanayiotou, who was at the scene on Saturday afternoon said the tyres were there in accordance with the required permits.

Furthermore, the audit office had said it had pointed out the risk of fire from the accumulation of large quantities of tyres in that very area “at a time when some people collect fees to process the tyres”. The audit office first made reference to the tyres in 2016 and had requested an inspection by the environment department at the site.


Meanwhile, in its report last year, the audit office said that used car tyres stored at the facility had not been processed, despite a company being paid to do so. These tyres had also been included in the quantities Cyprus put in its report to the European Commission as having been processed, the audit office said.

In response, Enerco and Vasiliko said the 2016 report was “fully utilised” explaining that the processing of tyres “implies a certain period of storage”

Between 2016 and 2021, Enerco, the company in charge of the tyre management, received and processed 48,000 tonnes or about 4.5 million tires. This translates to an average of 750,000 tyres per year, the company said.

“Despite the adverse conditions during the lockdown, it fully processed the same quantity,” it added.

During the same six-year period, large quantities of tyres which have been accumulated after being abandoned by third parties in various points across the government-controlled areas were also collected by the company, the announcement said. These tyres amounted to 10,450 tonnes, or over 800,000 tyres.

The annual consumption of tyres in Cyprus is estimated at 600,000 to 700,000 tyres (about 8,000 tonnes per year). According to Vasiliko, the cement plant has the capacity to process about 9,000 to 11,000 tonnes.

Concerning the audit office, the companies said it utilised the 2016 report. “All references made by it regarding the processing since then [2016] were without any consideration and scope and are unfortunately theories which are far from reality.”

The companies described the statement by the “honourable” agriculture minister concerning the separation lanes of the tyres on site as “unfortunate”. “We consider it to have been made under duress,” they said.

Kadis had stated on Tuesday things did not work as they should have for the tyre management, and that during his visit at the site he found that the tyre separation lanes were too narrow.

The incident sparked criticism by main opposition Akel who accused the government of an inadequate and sloppy approach to waste management.

In response, the agriculture ministry called for “constructive suggestions instead of sterile and nihilistic criticism” from Akel.

Residents of neighbouring villages, who held a protest on Monday demanded measures to avoid similar fires in the future. They said that the most recent one will undoubtedly have unprecedented health repercussions for them and their children after they inhaled its toxic fumes.


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