Saturday, April 3, 2010
The first time I saw this place, I was horrified by what I saw: gargantuan-sized gas works, steel works, cement works, oil distilleries, all found within metres of what looked like residential zones. Dust flew everywhere, piling on the side of the road like mud, especially outside the cement works. No one wore masks; no one seemed to care that they were inhaling dust. I tried to see the hidden beauty of this land, but the horrors of the modern men makes it very difficult: one must have the ability to see the past, or have great imagination, to recover the lost splendour of the Thriasian Plain and the city, once called Eleusis, now Elefsina in modern greek.
The industries operation have turned the Thriasio Pedio to a particularly polluted area ( air/ sea/ ground/ underground water pollution), in fact Elefsina is the town where the majority of crude oil in Greece is imported and refined. After the end of the war, but also of the civil tragedy that follows it, Elefsina enters definitely into the course of industrialisation. Its geographic situation and its harbour favoured the development of any kind of economic activities. Thus, apart from the old industries that are now modernized, new factories are established in the town area. In 1953 the steel factory starts functioning. In 1955 the oil factory is built and few years' later smaller factories like the ice factory and the shipyard Savvas are founded. Athens's nearest military airport is a few kilometers east of Elefsina. It has been used since the mid-20th century. Its runway is about 2 km and its buildings are to the west. It sits in the Thriasian/Eleusina Plain.
Aquatic areas can naturally remove a certain amount of pollution by dispersing it harmlessly.
Western Attica wetlands have an inestimable value. Yet ignorance of the state destroys them daily. Until a few years ago, the wetlands were "undervalued" by the local communities and state. As a result today the Lake Koumoundourou, near the Elefsina Bay, has very significant problems: air and ground pollution, industrial plant and fuel tanks, which come from the industries of Thriasio Pedio. The problems’ aspects are so dangerous and threatening, that each environmental measure must be regarded as a matter of great urgency. Earth is slowly dying, while flora, fauna, air and water have been seriously wounded both in quality and quantity.
Koumoundourou Lake (Lake of ancient Rheitoi)
The ancient lakes Rheitoi were dedicated to the goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone. The ancient Sacred Way met the ancient Rheitoi. Lake Koumoundourou is classified as a historic site since 1974.
The wetland ecosystems are very rich and productive, with multiple values. The 23 remaining wetlands in Attica, which compose a network of highly important places for the migration and wintering birds, are under a considerable pressure and even threatened with extinction. Blatant example, the lake Koumoundourou.
The lake is seen on the road Athens -Corinth. It was once a sacred place, now struggling to live among oil tanks, military facilities, heavy industries and a lot more "threatening" neighbors. In ancient times there were two pools: both lakes had been preserved until the 19th century and featured two water mills. Until the 1950s both lakes were natural fish reserves. The large lake, the northern, Kephalari, was drained in the early '50s and was backfilled during the construction of the oil refinery at Aspropyrgos. Its place is today marked by a swamp. Then, only one lake is left, a part of which has been drained to build the highway. The strange is that this ecosystem is under protection: since 1974 has been declared an archaeological site and the lake, and 50 meters around the area, is designated as suburban park!
Residents of surrounding areas have responded and defended the lake. Required by the state be interested in this, the release of several times the wire which kept "imprisoned" and stressed the significance and cultural value. Brought close to schools, awareness and continue to raise awareness through discussions and events, so that no one else lost this paradise. As if that were not enough already acute problems before 1.5 year (then) Ministry of Development had the 'famous' idea to carry oil tanks in Perama camp on the shores of the lake, but also to build a road junction in this area. There were many reactions because it is so important that this small lake be saved from destruction: the lake has to live and live, as some people claim and require breath in an already troubled Thriasio Plain.
- From the Department of Defense we learn that:
The lake is subject to the provisions of Military Security (with laws from 1936 to 1953).
The visit of the lake can be done by informing the administration of the camp.
Visitors are required to surrender their identity at the gate of the camp.
- From the Ministry of Culture, we learn that:
Approved Environmental Study Update the lake (F1/12/56/25-1-2005) .
Visiting schools are free to visit all archaeological sites, but the responsible to answer for Lake Koumoundourou is the Defense ministry.
2.3 Our demand for more frequent and more intensive audits on its own and modern means of OP control of air and groundwater pollution (oil spills, leachate from landfills) is also required for another reason. Lake Koumoundourou declared other than historical site (1974) valuable wetland.
Basically, it is foundamental the reopening of the access to the lake.
Collective action brings results. The dozens of signs prohibiting the entrance of the lake are now inactive. Their existence, suggest rather the need to conceal the pollution, despite the military character of the area given that it is also an archaeological site.
-To protect the Lake Koumoundourou must:
* Stop the aboveground and underground pollution of the lake, the control of neighboring industries (mainly Hellenic Petroleum Aspropyrgos, landfills, etc.) and take immediate and strong measures of protection (decontamination, measurements, etc.).
* To become a site visited so that the citizens can assess its value.
>Wetlands of Attica: oases of life with an uncertain future
(Tuesday, February 2, 2010 at the bookstore IANOS)
This year's celebration of World Day of wetlands: the remaining wetlands in Athens have to face serious problems. The hundreds of wetlands in Greece is the most valuable ecosystems in the country. Nevertheless, the year we passed the Greek Ornithological Society received more than thirty-five complaints related to degradation of wetlands in Greece.
The protection and conservation of wetlands in Athens is vital - aesthetic, emotional, scientific and economic - for everyone. These areas are of particular value because of their proximity to urban yoke of Athens. They perform a variety of valuable ecological functions: support a great variety of life, retain the rain water, rich with this aquifer, but also ensure a balanced change.
The threats and pressures facing wetlands today around Athens have led to severe degradation, and thus degrade the quality of life. Poorly designed flood control projects, oil tanks, off plan construction, illegal hunting, extensive polders are just a few of the growing threats to wetlands listed in Attica.
In conjunction with citizens and volunteers who care about the location and environment of Attica present the priceless value of these wetlands to Attica, the problems they face are urgent and deep, still they propose solutions to preserve them as "oases of life in urban landscape".
''People react and fight to protect these wetlands, as the Agency for Protection and the VOURKARI Movement to save the lake Koumoundourou. Furthermore, twelve of the most important wetlands in the country are monitored regularly by volunteers of the Ornithological Society.''
This, in antiquity, the sacred lake of Persephone, is the modern battlefield, where an unequal struggle unfolds. On one side stands the ruinous industries and political giant and on the other, battling defender, the natural world of the lake. In this semantic specialty, 'guerrilla Lake', the world of wetland are armed only with the ability of survival. The birds and the lake try againto resist to the toxic war. Not protected by any modern law, just struggling to survive in a place that is canceled in the minds of sophisticated Athenians.
(only some photos are taken by me, the others are kindly provided by these two blogs:
Posted by Varenya at 2:35 AM