On the occasion of the international day for Skouries (9.11.2013), Assistant Professor Yannis Zabetakis presented a short review of the problem that has rendered the area a symbol of the struggle for the environment.
By Yannis Zabetakis
A professor spends most of the time in university amphitheaters and libraries: in amphitheaters, in order to teach the young in Greece and spread (to the extent and in the way allowed by the Geek state… e.g., the University of Athens has been closed for the last 9 weeks due to an erroneous decision of the government!) the scientific knowledge; in libraries, so as to be informed for the new knowledge generated on the “laboratory counter” (as we chemists say) every day inside the laboratories all over the world. When we combine knowledge with teaching, then we can not only perform better in class, but also teach things that are directly related with society and science!
You may wonder why I wrote this introduction. In order to show that, after research and teaching, every professor has the moral obligation to try to popularise scientific findings, so that they can be utilised in favour of a better society and a life worth living for every citizen.
What is about to happen in #skouries overrides scientific findings. In contrast to the easily disproved Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), the truth is that gold mining from open mines in the area is simply hazardous to the environment, the people, the water, the flora and fauna…
At the moment, Cononish Gold Mine, which was granted concession in 2011, is operating in Scotland. It surely is a gold mine, but do not rush to say “you see, investments in gold mines as the ones in Chalkidiki are also given the green light in the civilised Great Britain”. The differences are so fundamental that make Cononish look like a children’s toy compared to the “Investment Plan for Development” of the gold mines in Chalkidiki.
- Climax: Mining of 72,000 tons of minerals per year. This is less than what the gold mine in Skouries will produce in just three days!!!
- Way of mining: Exclusively underground.
- Method of processing: In Cononish, gold will be recovered only through froth flotation and gravity concentration. There will neither be a metallurgy factory nor will cyanide be used.
And, most of all, the Scottish trust their country’s institutions, because they have proved that they only act in the interest of the citizens.
Let’s go back to Chalkidiki and #skouries
What is about to happen (or, rather, has already begun) there, is a mining beyond any assessment of the environmental risk and the cross-contamination of the food chain, risking the irreparable contamination of the area’s underground water table.
We are all aware of the fact that a contaminated water table (e.g., Assopos river in Viotia and the area of Mesapia in Evia) involves serious risks concerning drinking water, food chain, fishing, animal husbandry and agriculture. As scientists, we are obliged to remember “communicating vessels.” The water table is like a bottle. Each time we drill for water is like adding in the bottle another straw, which will absorb the same (contaminated) water. Imagine that the bottle in the picture is the underground water table in your area. If a drilling site has (or will have) a problem with heavy metals (see the white straw), sooner or later, another drilling site a few kilometers away will have the same problem, even if it is in a different depth (or a straw in a different colour).
Finally, we shouldn’t forget the cross-contamination of the food chain by the heavy metals of the water table. This mixing and downgrade of clean water is against article 4 of the Greek Joint Ministerial Decision 2600/2001, as it has been amended, according to which: The competent authorities make sure that the measures taken for the enforcement of the present regulation do not result, in any case, in direct or indirect downgrade of the quality of drinking water today, to the extent this is related with the protection of human health, nor in increase in the contamination of the water used for the production of drinking water.
We shouldn’t forget all of these today, not only for the future of the area and of our children, but also in order not to make the same mistakes again.
Water is more important than all the gold in the world, since people cannot survive even one day without water.
Source: The Press Project