By Martha Lekkakou
Questions to the Minister for Merchant Shipping and Island Policy, Panagiotis Kouroumblis regarding the ecological disaster that is ongoing in the area between the island of Salamis up to Glyfada due to the major oil spill were submitted in Parliament, by all members of Parliament of New Democracy, who get elected in the periphery of B’ Athens, the two party vice-presidents included, Adonis Georgiadis and Kostis Chatzidakis, as well as by the party’s ex-leader Vangelis Meimarakis. This move was further supported by having as co-signatories to these questions the member of Parliament for the Athens region as well as for both Piraeus electoral peripheries. These questions pose a number of issues that need to be urgently addressed: What were the reasons behind the sinking of the ship? Was the tanker seaworthy and was there a breach in its hull? When was the ship last inspected and checked regarding its seaworthiness and its capabilities by the Ministry for Merchant Shipping? When was the emergency plan of Ministry for Merchant Shipping set in motion? Who or which persons are responsible for its activation? At which time, they were informed about the sinking? At which time, did they respond? Were the means at their disposal sufficient enough in order to tackle this calamity? At which time, were the local authorities informed? Why was the pollution so extended and why was it allowed to spread so much? The parliamentary question to Mr Kouroumblis, who has placed his resignation at the prime minister’s discretion, is also co-signed by party’s section-heads for Development Dora Bakoyiannis, for Maritime Policy, Yiannis Plakiotakis, Olga Kefalogianni MP and the section-head for the Environment, Kostas Skrekas.
The President of New Democracy called for the submission of the relevant question following the visit he had made on the coastal front.
The members of Parliament are arguing against the actions of Mr Kouroumblis and argue that there was criminal negligence in the attempts made to tackle this ecological disaster. They argued that while on the next day, after the sinking of the tanker, Mr Kouroumblis was issuing statements, near Salamis, that the entire situation is under control, that the leak was contained and been effectively handled, “developments not only did not justify his optimism but, on the contrary, led to an unprecedented ecological disaster in the region. ” Members of Parliament pointed out to the competent minister that the first signs of huge marine pollution occurred on the coasts of Salamis and instead of intervening immediately on the spot with all available means at the Ministry’s disposal and effectively tackling the problem, even though at a somewhat slow initial place, he was giving false assurances to the general public that everything was under control, while the ecological disaster was rapidly expanding to the Piraeus, Glyfada and Voula areas.
At the same time, the New Democracy members of Parliament argue and lodge formal complaints about the fact that there was significant negligence on part of the authorities, even in the issue of the usage of the relevant means for the cleanup of the pollution at sea. They also stress the fact that the peripheral stations for combating sea pollution that operate in the Piraeus and Elefsis areas are, “given the current status of the entire situation” deemed ineffective and out-of-date. They went on to add that our country has signed a co-operation agreement with EMSA (European Maritime Safety Agency), which has at its disposal, and always on stand-by, specialized ships capable of dealing with such incidents. The New Democracy MP’s accuse the government that while such ships were docked in the area, and while the highly specialized ship ΑΚΤΑΙΑ OSRV was on hand – a ship that has the means and the capabilities not only of tackling pollution at sea but also having a highly specialized radar capable of providing information regarding the movement and potential course of any such pollution – the government did not immediately ask for assistance in tackling this disaster.
Furthemore, Mr Mitsotakis has asked the party’s European Parliament Members to inquire and explore the possibility of finding European resources and funding in order to further assist in the area’s rehabilitation and revitalization. At the same time, he extensively argued on the need to update the contingency plans so as to be more effective in dealing with such incidents./IBNA