3 years later – Vindication on the issue of Syros sea bottom pollution

Over the last three years, Aegean Rebreath has been the target of baseless, misinformed and politically motivated accusations and legal actions related to our work on retrieving sediment samples from the port of Syros. Following measurements of sediment from a specific part of the port, the Hellenic Center for Marine Research (H.C.M.R.) found a larger concentration of heavy metals than international norms suggest. From the first moment of that finding, Aegean Rebreath was in touch with local authorities and pertinent organizations in order to enable H.C.M.R. to carry out further measurements in order to confirm the initial findings.

Three years later, following the publication of the relevant report from H.C.M.R., we feel we have proved our case for two reasons. First, the invitation to H.C.M.R. in order to conduct an environmental study in the area with a view to publicizing its results. And second, the fact that the results of our 2019 sediment sample are completely in line with H.C.M.R.’s more recent April 2022 measurements. In their report, they note that “increased values were detected for some heavy metals both in the bay and at the reference station, mainly for chromium, copper and to a lesser extent for zinc and nickel…a burden on the sediment corresponding to a time period of several decades. The source of the pollution should be sought in the multiple anthropogenic activities that took place in the area.” (H.C.M.R. Report, page 46). A similar mention on page 18 of the report characterizes the surface sediments taken at measuring points from moderately to significantly polluted.

Aegean Rebreath is pleased that the report in question -and its findings- have been positively received and accepted by the community, local government and authorities. We salute another opportunity to let science and evidence speak, rather than personal motives, and salute their acceptance of our initial recommendation for further testing by a pertinent and technically qualified organization like H.C.M.R.. We are not pleased that our initial suggestion of sea bottom pollution following the 2019 sampling has been now fully verified. We are also happy that the recent study provides conclusions that no one can challenge, while clearly demonstrating the current state of the marine environment.

As one of our core tenets is to table recommendations and not simply stand on criticism, it is our hope that an environmental study will be conducted and reviewed on an annual basis, in order to identify and rectify anomalies in good order.

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