Foods from Blast Zone Region Banned From Sale
Food products from the region around the blast zone around Evangelos Florakis naval base have been banned from the market until the State Laboratories complete their tests, said Director of the laboratories Dr. Poppi Kannari.
A Health Ministry order temporarily banning the foodstuffs was renewed last night, pending finalisation of multiple tests to establish whether there was any contamination from heavy and non-heavy metals or depleted uranium, said Dr. Kannaris speaking to CyprusNewsReport.com. The labs are working 24 hours a day since the explosion at the naval base on July 11th, and have tested for copper, depleted uranium, iron, magnesium and other metals, she said.
The results so far are encouraging because there are no findings of higher-than-usual traces in the substances tested, said Kannaris.
"We tested lots of samples, food, animal feed, surface water, groundwater, seawater, soil, and sea sediment, carcinogenic substances produced by fires and explosions...we are still testing," she said.
Today, Kannaris gave a verbal report to the environment parliamentary committee. There is no written report yet - it is pending the completion of testing, said Kannaris. On Friday, she will appear again in front of the committee and give her written report along with a full analysis of the results.
"We're getting close to the final results, my minister (minister of health Christos Patsalides) asked me one thousand times whether there is anything for the public to be worried about. I told him, so far, we don't find anything out of the ordinary to be concerned about, but if I find something tomorrow, I will tell everyone," said Kannaris.
Keeping secrets after a catastrophe of this scale would be another disaster, she said.
No depleted uranium or alpha radiation has been found on the metal objects strewn around the blast site from the force of the explosion, said Kannaris.
"We have a written confirmation from the Ministry of Labour which tested for alpha radiation - no alpha radiation was found," she said.
Gamma radiation has also been ruled out by testing from the University of Cyprus. But the state laboratory is still trying to find out what substances were in the 98 containers which blew up on July 11th, killing 13 men and critically damaging the Vassiliko electricity plant.
"We were given a very short list of the what was in the containers, what we did find in the tests was nitroglycerine," said Kannaris.
When detonated, nitroglycerine does not give off any carcinogenic substances, just water, nitrogen and carbon, she said.
Residents in the area have reported breathing problems and red, itchy eyes. According to another expert, Dr. Yiannis Parpotas from the University of Cyprus, this was most likely due to the large amount of dust and smoke in the air. But this raises another question; this dust dissipated in the wind, so it is natural that any substances in the air would be less concentrated, said Kannaris.
The next step is to complete the testing and report to the House environmental committee on Friday. Dr. Kannaris will submit a written report to the committee and expects that this report will be made public, she said.