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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-11-20

Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>


  • [01] Government to sue Ergates foundry
  • [02] Minister announces Kotsiatis clean-up
  • [03] Shacolas duo seek suspension from the market
  • [04] Officials ponder extra security for schools
  • [05] US ‘peace scenario’ is ready for peace talks, says Clerides

  • [01] Government to sue Ergates foundry

    By Anthony O. Miller

    THE GOVERNMENT is taking the Ergates foundry of Marios &amp; Eleni to court for allegedly spewing more pollution into the air than is allowed by law, top ministry officials said yesterday.

    Ergates villagers have blamed the foundry for rates of cancer of the brain, kidney and pancreas, leukaemia and lung diseases that far exceed the Cyprus average. A full 33 per cent of Ergates' children have chronic smoke-related lung problems.

    Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas asked Attorney-general Alecos Markides "to prepare all the papers to take the company to court for disobeying the (pollution) limits that we set," a top Labour Ministry official said, requesting anonymity.

    "As the Ministry of Labour, I think we have done the right thing," the official told the Cyprus Mail. "We took emissions measurements five times. We got averages. We saw (the air pollution) content was high. We informed the Parliament immediately. We contacted the Attorney-general, and we are proceeding" to go to court, he said.

    Moushiouttas has also asked Markides to obtain a court order closing the foundry until the court renders its judgment in the case, the Labour official said, adding: "The law permits us to do that."

    The closure order could affect either the foundry itself, or other aspects of the Marios &amp; Eleni operation on the site, or both, the official said. "Maybe we will conclude that it is only the foundry that needs to stop, so if they have other work to do there, they can do it," he explained.

    A guilty verdict could cost the foundry's owners "up to £20,000 in fines and either one or two years imprisonment," the Labour Ministry source said.

    Studies have shown the foundry's smoke contains the neuro-toxic heavy-metals lead and cadmium. And one anonymous Health Ministry doctor claims the foundry's smoke has saturated Ergates with lethal dioxin, the deadliest chemical compound known.

    The government ordered the foundry to reduce its air pollution to 300 milligrams per cubic metre of emissions, after tests showed it was spewing 1,000mg per cubic metre into the air -- 20 times the accepted European Union level. The current level required by Cyprus law is only six times the EU-accepted figure.

    However, recent tests showed the foundry has been disgorging some 800mg of pollutants per cubic metre into the Ergates air, prompting the government to act, the Labour Ministry official said.

    According to a study by Dr Michalis Voniatis, commissioned by Ergates villagers, 33 per cent of their children suffer from chronic breathing problems associated with the Marios &amp; Eleni Foundry's smoke.

    Voniatis also blamed foundry smoke for a rate of brain, kidney and pancreas cancer nearly three times the national average; a lung cancer rate 50 per cent above the Cyprus average; and a leukaemia rate twice the national average.

    Parallel to prosecuting the foundry, the Labour Ministry is also "analysing the particulate for lead and cadmium. We sent the samples to the government laboratories for analysis, and we should know by Monday or Tuesday what levels of these two dangerous elements are in the smoke, including dioxin," the Labour Ministry official said.

    "Apparently they have decided that enough is enough," Health Minister Frixos Savvides said of the Labour Ministry decision to sue the foundry.

    And he noted that, "if there is the slightest suspicion of any harm to the community_ then the decision the decision to close the foundry (permanently) is absolutely within our authority."

    Savvides said "there could be a possibility" that the diseases documented by Dr Voniatis were related to the foundry smoke, "but it's not yet certain".

    "In any case, the correlation between the unfortunate results (of Voniatis' study) and the problem with the foundry is something that will be studied over a very long-term period," Savvides said.

    [02] Minister announces Kotsiatis clean-up

    By Martin Hellicar

    INTERIOR Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou yesterday announced immediate measures to clean up the Kotsiatis landfill site.

    Christodoulou and Nicosia Mayor Lellos Demetriades visited the massive dump -- which receives the household waste of all of Nicosia and 28 villages in the district -- yesterday morning. Residents of nearby Kotsiatis are up in arms over what they say is the sorry state of the site. Villagers point to trash being dumped willy-nilly on the perimeter of the landfill and say rubbish is not properly covered over with earth.

    The Minister and the Mayor were evidently not too impressed with what they saw yesterday.

    They concurred that the main problem was individuals dumping trash both within and around the site outside normal operating hours, with the result that rubbish was left exposed or was not promptly covered with earth.

    As an immediate remedy, Christodoulou said he would instruct police to patrol the dump on a 24-hour basis to prevent illegal dumping. He added that the perimeter fence would be reinforced to stop people adding to the dump's load outside normal operating hours.

    The Minister also announced that the government would foot the bill for a general clear-up of the area surrounding the landfill. He also promised earthing-over procedures would be improved.

    But Christodoulou also spoke of long-term trash disposal solutions. He said the government had commissioned a team of foreign experts to draw up a comprehensive trash management plan for the whole island.

    He said his Ministry's recommendations for action, based on the experts' findings, would be ready for submission to the cabinet "in the next few weeks."

    Last week, the House Environment committee was promised by Interior Ministry representatives that the trash management plan would be ready to go before the cabinet "in the next few days."

    The Minister said the plan would cover both siting for disposal sites and recycling schemes.

    Cyprus has a huge and growing trash management problem.

    The island is third in the EU league table of per capita rubbish production. The average Cypriot generates 465 kilos of trash a year. Add to this the considerable trash contribution made by tourists, and the island produces some 380,000 tonnes of solid waste a year. The committee heard from government experts that this volume was expected to reach 500,000 tonnes a year by 2007.

    The Agriculture Ministry environment service says this rubbish more often than not ends up in unsuitable, uncontrolled, dumps. The situation is described as "out of control."

    [03] Shacolas duo seek suspension from the market

    By Hamza Hendawi

    NICOS Shacolas' Woolworth and CTC yesterday sought the approval of the Cyprus Stock Exchange for a week-long voluntary suspension to update their share registers, starting Monday.

    The exchange was expected to announce its decision on Monday, but its approval is almost a foregone conclusion since it has clearly stated its wish to see all listed companies have a clean slate by November 29, when a new settlement system is scheduled to come into force.

    The exchange has warned that the full weight of the law will come down on any listed company that delays issuing share deeds from November 29 onwards.

    If suspended, CTC and Woolworth would on Monday take to 12 the number of companies either suspended by the exchange or having opted out voluntarily to update their registers.

    Besides Shacolas' two giant retailers, the 12 include Bank of Cyprus, Popular Bank, Hellenic Bank, Cassoulides &amp; Sons, Vassiliko Cement, Frindlays Properties and Investments, Orphanides Supermarkets, Cy-Venture, Minerva Insurance and Astarti Development.

    The suspended companies make up nearly a quarter of the total number of those listed on the exchange and include five -- the three banks, Vassiliko and CTC -- which are among the 10 largest companies in terms of capitalisation.

    The capitalisation of the 12 companies combined is close to £8 billion, while the market's total capitalisation stands at £11.1 billion.

    The absence of the three banks, which have traditionally dominated the market, has ushered a shift by investors to small cap shares. With many investors chasing a few shares, the value of most small caps shot up unrealistically over the past week but traders expect the trend to go into reverse when the banks return to the market, possibly on November 29.

    The absence of the banks, meanwhile, is now known to be behind the market's seemingly aimless movement, which started on Thursday.

    The all-share index yesterday closed up at 805.18, 1.54 points, or 0.19 per cent, on a volume of £43.95 million.

    Five of the market's sectors finished the day down, with the remainder -- insurance and "other companies" -- gaining 1.52 per cent and 1.85 per cent respectively.

    Investment powerhouse Athienitis &amp; Severis Financial Services Ltd, meanwhile, announced yesterday that it was hoping to have its shares traded on the Cyprus Stock Exchange starting from mid-December.

    It said 220,000 shares of nominal value of 40 cents would be offered to the public on November 25 and 26 at £2 apiece. Another 1.19 million shares of the same price and nominal value will be offered to investors through a private placement.

    Athienitis &amp; Severis is the island's second largest brokerage in terms of market share behind CLR. The value of its share is expected to soar immediately after the listing, partly due to investors' hunger for new issues.

    A dearth of new shares on the exchange has been blamed by some brokers for the unrealistically high value of most shares available at present.

    They blame the shortage of new issues on what they see as the exchange's painfully slow processing of listing applications. Exchange Chairman Dinos Papadopoulos, however, says that up to 30 new companies will be listed between now and the end of 2000. The exchange currently has 53 listed companies.

    [04] Officials ponder extra security for schools

    By Jean Christou

    THE EDUCATION Ministry is thinking of hiring 24-hour security guards for schools following a spate of violent attacks on teachers by pupils.

    An incident on Thursday, in which a teacher was injured, prompted his colleagues at Limassol's Ayios Ioannis Lyceum to stage a two-hour work stoppage yesterday.

    It was the third serious attack since the school year began two months ago.

    Incidents of schools being targeted by arsonists are also on the rise.

    Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides yesterday tried to play down talk of a rising trend of violence, saying the incidents were all different.

    But the minister admitted that there was sufficient cause for concern to warrant discussion on security at schools.

    "We don't want this sort of thing to go on indefinitely in Cypriot schools," Ioannides said. "This is why we are examining the possibility (of hiring guards) at the moment".

    However, he said it was the ministry's view that discipline at schools was the responsibility of teachers.

    "Punishment should be applied by teachers," he said, adding that he did not believe the secondary school teachers union Oelmek would appreciate having some of its members' powers taken over by the ministry. "If the penalty is not enough to solve today's problems, then we are ready to act," Ioannides said.

    Thursday's incident broke out when a teacher reported an 18-year old pupil to the school's deputy head.

    When the pupil learned he had been reported, he allegedly barged into the staff room and attacked the teacher.

    A second teacher, Demetris Demetriades, stepped in to help his colleague, and was also allegedly attacked by the student, who hit him with a chair and punched him. Demetriades sustained light injuries.

    It was reported yesterday that the pupil involved had already been expelled from several other schools.

    He was questioned by police later on Thursday and was expected to be charged and released yesterday in connection with the assault.

    Teachers, outraged by the incident, staged their protest strike between 9am and 11am yesterday morning.

    Oelmek president Andreas Stavrou, who went to Limassol yesterday, condemned what had happened and blamed the Education Ministry.

    He said the union had asked the Minister to take measures to prevent violence in schools, which he said was becoming an everyday occurrence.

    Stavrou said Oelmek decided a month ago that any school where there were violent incidents would stage a two-hour strike like the one held yesterday. If incidents of violence persisted, measures would be extended to schools across the country.

    "The teachers have no other choice because of the indifference shown by the relevant authorities," Stavrou said. "We cannot stand by and watch the violence in society permeate our schools. Schools are supposed to prepare people for a better life."

    Injured teacher Demetriades said yesterday that it had been his duty to protect a fellow teac"I tried to hold the student back and he attacked me and other teachers," he said.

    "Because I'm a parent too I called the parents' association to consider what is happening and to look at the issue of their children's safety, which is at the mercy of one or two students who are at school only to pass the time and have no interest in lessons, only in terrorising fellow students and disrupting teachers."

    Demetriades said more and more teachers were choosing not to report bad behaviour for fear of reprisals.

    [05] US peace scenario is ready for peace talks, says Clerides

    By Jean Christou

    THE United States has a detailed peace scenario which will be given to the two sides during next month's talks in New York, President Clerides confirmed yesterday in Istanbul.

    But Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, who is also in Istanbul, said he was unaware of any such roadmap and doubted that a third party proposal could help towards a solution.

    Clerides and Denktash both had separate meetings yesterday with UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan. Both leaders also held press conferences -- Clerides hours after his meeting with Annan, and Denktash before his scheduled 6pm meeting with the Secretary-general.

    The meetings with Annan were held unexpectedly to discuss matters related to the UN- sponsored proximity talks to be held in New York on December 3.

    Clerides told journalists that Annan was due to present the proposed US format to the two leaders when he meets each one separately in New York. "They (US officials) told us that they have a scenario covering all the problems of Cyprus which will be presented to both the community leaders for negotiations," Clerides said. He said he could not give further details and US officials declined to comment.

    Denktash, however, was scathing. "It's a pity if Mr Clerides relies on such a thing," he said during his subsequent news conference. "Any plan from any third party cannot bring a solution."

    Following Clerides' 20-minute meeting with Annan early yesterday, government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said the Secretary-general had made it clear he intends to conduct proximity talks on the substance of the Cyprus problem and he expects both sides to respond.

    Denktash wants talks on his status which might lead to direct talks, but plans on tabling his idea of confederation as opposed to the widely sought federation.

    President Clerides, who is in Istanbul to attend the summit meeting of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) -- the first Cyprus president in Turkey since the island's division in 1974 -- told journalists the proximity talks differ from any previous talks because so many important parties are involved. He said the US is determined to bridge the gap between the two sides.

    Commenting on Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit's refusal to discuss the Cyprus issue with his Greek counterpart Costas Simitis on Thursday, Clerides implied that Ankara's silence indicates it has put the entire responsibility on Denktash.

    He said that whichever side proves to be the unwilling partner in New York will have to pay the political cost. "We will go to the talks with full intention to find a just and viable solution to the problem, a solution that will take into consideration the fears of both communities and lay down the foundations for prosperity and human rights," Clerides said.

    He stressed that security was very important. "You will not solve the Cyprus problem if you don't have security," he said. "Some arrangements need to be found".

    Addressing the OSCE conference earlier in the day, Clerides said a solution was urgently needed to benefit all of the island's inhabitants. "A good solution which will heal the wounds of the past, remove suspicion and the sense of insecurity felt by both communities, dispelling fears and concerns and establishing a climate of trust, mutual understanding and co-operation is urgently needed and will be to the benefit of all the inhabitants of this divided island and long suffering country," he said.

    During his speech, Clerides also expressed Cyprus' condolences to Turkey over recent earthquakes. He also praised the Turkish government for the excellent organisation of the conference and the generous hospitality accorded to the Cyprus delegation.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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