Waste burning in Volos

The problem

Volos is surrounded by factories. The closest of them, the cement factory AGET-LAFARGE-HOLCIM, is only a few hundred meters from the town. In 2013, the factory applied for and obtained permission to burn RDF for its energy needs. The burning of this material releases extremely dangerous pollutants both for the environment and the health of the residents of Volos and the surrounding areas.


AGET-LAFARGE-HOLCIM

The AGET-LAFARGE-HOLCIM cement factory is only a few hundred meters away from the city of Volos and the town of Agria. It has been licensed to burn 200,000 tons of waste (RDF) annually, without the proper technology and without the regulatory mechanism and political will to ensure that the material to be burned meets the specifications set by environmental legislation. The unbearable -and toxic- smell of burnt plastic is a common phenomenon in the city of Volos.


The fuel

RDF is a mixture of organic and inorganic waste of urban or industrial origin. It is tempting to use as a source of energy since the cost is low - in some cases there may be a governmental subsidization – and the energy efficiency is of the highest. This material is pulverized and injected with pressure into the furnace where it burns. Although international rules have been established for the composition of the material with the least possible damage to the environment, it is practically impossible to effectively control the quantities AGET burns. In addition, the factory receives RDF shipments from countries where waste management is particularly problematic, with the risk the material being much more dangerous (e.g. high plastic content, hospital waste, radioactive substances). The burning of RDF releases dioxins and furans into the atmosphere, highly toxic substances which, in addition to the air, they settle on the ground and penetrate the aquifer, thus contaminating the environment in a permanent and cumulative manner.


The Municipality, the Region, the State

Unfortunately, the State sees the RDF burning, as an easy way to manage waste and as an opportunity for the profitability of large businesses, ignoring the environmental impact and health of people. Following this idea, the Thessaly Region finances the creation of an RDF production unit in the Volos landfill in order to supply AGET with this "fuel", which will be made from waste not only from Volos, but also from other areas of Greece and from third countries.

The Municipal Authority of Volos, as directly interested in the issue that concerns the health of the residents of Volos and the surrounding areas, instead of opposing what is happening and are planned for the -gloomy environmental- future, considers that everything is going well supporting with it's attitude the destruction of the environment and the damage done to the health of citizens.


Citizens / Institutions

The vast majority of citizens are against waste burning. In the referendum organized by Volos Citizens' Struggle Committee on the day of the European elections took part 5,216 citizens, who voted against waste burning by 98.51%. The majority of non-governmental institutions, such as the Medical Association of Magnesia, Associations of Parents and Guardians, pupils, students, professors, have also expressed an opposite opinion on the burning.