LARNACA Mayor Andreas Louroudjiadis has fulfilled his promise to visit the Kamares area to see the extent of the problems caused by sewage, which residents said last week was making their lives unbearable.

The Mayor, who was accompanied by the head of Larnaca’s sewerage and drainage board, Evi Theopemptou, and officials from the environment department, took immediate action, ordering two cesspit carriers to start cleaning out the area.

“It went very well,” Louroudjiadis told the Cyprus Mail yesterday. “We offered some solutions - immediate ones and more mid-term ones - because the goal is to work towards securing the quality of life of residents, their health and safe living conditions.”

The Kamares area has been suffering from contamination for the past six years, and not just due to the lack of a complete sewerage system, which has forced residents to pay for sewage trucks to get rid of their waste. A canal running along the length of the Larnaca Salt Lake – which some residents have illegally diverted their waste into – has never been cleaned out, leading to decades of debris amassing and clogging it up. In addition, increased rainfall this year resulted in water levels going up and mixing with the sewage. To compound matters, an error by the municipality led to the creation of a nature path over part of the sewage system, blocking access to the pipes for maintenance and resulting in leaks.

Speaking on behalf of over 1,000 Kamares residents, Savvas Hadjianastasis yesterday welcomed the municipality’s efforts, but called on the state to take more substantial measures to fix years worth of “criminal negligence”.

“We want the state to take responsibility and fix this problem, with the correct work. If not, we will react strongly,” he said.

Hadjianastasis also thanked the sewerage board. “Even with the delays and their unforgivable mistakes, the board has started clearing the sewage that has poisoned the area. The residents welcome this action.”

He said the trucks, which were sent in to clean up had extracted around 30 tonnes of waste but then stopped. “We are speaking about 700 tonnes so the correct solution, which is cost free, is sealing the land with 1.5 metres of soil. When there is no oxygen, everything dies.”

And with the contaminated earth covered, he added, this would prevent the soil from drying up in the summer and ending up in the atmosphere, being inhaled by residents and putting their health at serious risk.

“Because the soil and subsoil are contaminated, once all this dries up, it will turn into dust that we will all inhale,” said Hadjianastasis. “There is a specific bacterium in there and if it is inhaled, it can lead to septicaemia, which happened to a five-year-old child recently, who narrowly escaped death.”

He said the Environmental Services were opposed to his idea on grounds that it would be environmentally damaging. “This isn’t environment, it is a contaminated, poisoned environment,” said Hadjianastasis. “They need to finally understand that this is a danger to public health. We are seeing snakes two and a half metres long, chameleons, all kinds of rodents, mosquitoes and any other insect you can imagine.”

 

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