New Concerns Over Toxins in Blast Zone
Vasiliko power station, which bore the brunt of the July 11th explosion, had stores of dangerous substances, including ammonium hydroxide, sulphuric acid, caustic soda and sodium hydroxide. The industrial substances were buried beneath debris and rubble and were highly dangerous and very toxic to human health, particularly the large quantities of acids and chlorine, said Perdikis.
"We asked so many times, one of the problems is that we weren't informed about these other substances. The minister (of health) told us there was only crude oil stored there, but they knew (about the other chemicals)," said Perdikis in comments to CyprusNewsReport.com.
He has called for a plan to remove the chemicals from the power plant, and criticised the health ministry for not taking blood and urine samples from employees at the state-owned power plant.
The Green Party MP said he was not happy with the tests carried out by the state laboratory: "they only took small samples, I was not satisfied from the beginning." The ministry should be carrying out blood and urine samples on everyone who was in the area in the immediate aftermath of the explosion, he said.
"It is because they are afraid of having to pay compensation, it is irresponsible," said the MP.
Last week, the state laboratory gave the all-clear for nuclear radiation, heavy and non-heavy metal contamination after extensive tests on soil, milk, seawater and groundwater samples. But tests for toxic minerals or gases such as nitrogen dioxide - released by decaying nitroglycerine - have not been addressed by the health authorities.
In the aftermath of the worst national disaster since the Turkish invasion in 1974, it is clear that the authorities have no contingency plans for widescale industrial pollution. Although few people could have predicted the scale of the catastrophe, which killed 13 men and set Cyprus back 20 years in terms of electricity supply, obviously more planning for industrial emergencies must be done by government agencies in the future.
The government's response to the disaster was also criticised by DISY MP Stella Kyriakidou, among others, who said that the ministry of health did not have a liaison agency with the army. Because of this lack of communication, soldiers, firemen, police and sailors were all deployed to the naval base directly after the explosion.On the day of the explosion, they ran considerable risks to their health because they were not wearing gloves or other protective clothing.
(EDITOR NOTE: CyprusNewsReport.com is in the process of contacting the State Laboratory to follow up on whether tests are being done for acids and other industrial pollutants. Updates will be posted in the coming days. Please note that story has been corrected, there was no arsenic in the stores according to the statement made by Mr. Perdikis.)