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Legislation is being drafted for the protection of the environment in industrial areas

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Legislation is being drafted for the protection of the environment in industrial areas

The Human Rights Committee is preparing a legislative solution to the impasse of areas with pollution harmful to human health, aiming at the establishment of the human right to live in a healthy environment.

In a discussion at the Committee meeting on Monday, the chronic problem of those whose health is affected by the presence of polluting activities in various areas of Cyprus emerged. Emphasis was placed on those affected to be involved in marathon litigation to ensure the right to live in a healthy environment, with the result that those who are seriously ill often die without being justified.

The aim of the process that has started is the preparation of a legislative proposal, which will cover the protection of the environment – and consequently the health of the inhabitants – in areas with an presence of industrial activity, but will also serve to substantiate cases, in case affected citizens lead the perpetrators of pollution before justice.

During the discussion, the problem was raised that the right to a clean environment is not enshrined in either the Constitution or European Legislation and the right to life, or a dignified life or the protection of property must be indirectly invoked in legal proceedings.

With the participation of experts, specialist scientists, as well as representatives of the competent state services, during the discussion, “shocking facts” emerged, according to the Chairman of the Committee and AKEL MP, Irini Charalambidou, for areas with a history of environmental pollution. citizens' health, causing chronic or acute diseases.

Citing data from the European Environment Agency, Ms. Charalambidou said that in Cyprus it is estimated that 600-800 premature deaths occur due to poor air quality. In her statements, Ms. Charalambidou stated that the controls that are carried out are not sufficient, while there is an issue in the supervision and the measurements that concern pollution from industrial units. He also expressed “dissatisfaction with the fact that they have not yet mapped areas with increased cases of cancer or other diseases”, despite the fact that such a thing is facilitated today by the computerization of GESS.

Co-chairing the meeting, Environmentalist MP Charalambos Theopemptou said that “unfortunately the world is vulnerable” to pollution and recalled the recent example of residents affected by the emissions of asphalt plants in D. “The state gives grants to move these factories from region to region, without a solution,” he added. He concluded that, in addition to any legislation, “above all, the behavior of the state needs to change” and described it as unacceptable to give warnings to factories before inspections are carried out.

DISY MP, Rita Theodorou Superman, said that there is a problem with urban areas, since as the residential areas grow, a problem is created by their proximity to industrial zones.

DISY MP Fotini Tsiridou expressed satisfaction with the government's willingness to take action on such issues, stressing that this issue “can not be a field of political controversy”, and called for a synthesis of views.

Michalis Voniatis, President of the Human Rights Commission of the Pancyprian Bar Association, referred to the long-term studies on the effects on human health from the pollution of areas in Cyprus. Special emphasis was given to the problem with the concentration of lead in the soil and the atmosphere in the area of Ergates Larnaca, during the operation of the foundry. As Mr. Voniatis explained, the increased levels of lead, which particularly affected children, can lead from mental retardation and problems with kidney function, to problems with bone development. In the case of the Astrasol plant, he said, studies showed that the brain cancers were due to the concentration of dichloromethane, a substance that can affect up to 15 years after the plant closes, which he said was never tested, according to Mr. Voniatis.

The Commissioner for Administration and Protection of Human Rights, Maria Stylianou Lottidis, stated that on the occasion of the complaint from the residents of the parish of Ag. Konstantinos and Eleni Idaliou, it was found that there was no condition to obtain a permit for the emission of gases from an industrial unit in the area. “This indefinite mode of operation of the factories, caused damage to the atmosphere and consequently to the quality of life of the inhabitants, without anyone being able to exercise control and refer the matter to justice,” Ms. Lottidi explained, adding that in the same area , the factories operated with the tolerance of the local authorities without final permits, while it was not clear how the neighboring residential areas were affected, even if the unit remained within the boundaries of the industrial zone.

The Commissioner for Environment, Clelia Vassiliou, stressed that the creation of an environmental control branch that will concern all services should be considered. “The bet for all of us is that the 99 different environmental laws will be implemented holistically and have an effect,” he added, concluding that the new Directorate-General for the Environment will help solve the problem of fragmentation of responsibilities.

On behalf of the Cyprus Pulmonary Society, Dr. Haris Armeftis stated that “when a lung cancer occurs, without a history of smoking, or family history, environmental factors must be measured” and stressed that it would be good to record address, to achieve the map of incidents. “As a pulmonology company, we want to create such a file, in order to detect in time that there is a problem and to prevent the occurrence of diseases”, he concluded.

The Associate Professor of Environmental Health of TEPAK, Konstantinos Makris, stated that “if we continue the scenario as it is, the effects on the affected areas will intensify, targeting the socio-economically vulnerable groups.” He also formulated the proposal for the establishment of environmental and public health observatories, at the level of municipalities and communities.

The need for a “legal window” that takes into account the potential risks of environmental pollution, was raised by Stella Michailidou, on behalf of the National Committee “Environment and Child Health”. In particular, he said that 1/3 of cancers can be prevented if children are protected from the effects of carcinogens and added that children are more sensitive to the effects of toxic substances. “If it can not be proven that one activity does not affect health, then preventive measures must be taken,” he explained.

Source: KYPE

Source: politis.com.cy

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