A toxic cloud covers Athens – fire at recycling plant burns for a fifth day

A large fire broke out at a private recycling factory in the area of Nea Zoi, near Aspropyrgos, northwest of Athens, on Saturday, resulting in extensive damage to the recycling unit, authorities said.


The factory had not been in operation over the last few months due to unpaid debts by its owner.

The prosecutor’s office launched an investigation on Tuesday into the causes of the fire that has been belching toxic fumes across the capital since.

The probe comes after Attica Regional Governor filed a suit against persons unknown on Tuesday

A 34-year-old man, who was a temporary supervisor at the recycling company, was arrested facing charges of violating environmental protection legislation. The 46-year-old president and managing director of the company, who also faces the same charges, is wanted by the police..

The smoke from burned plastic, rubber  and other recyclable waste materials has reached the centre of Athens and prompted the Health Ministry to issue a warning to Aspropyrgos residents, particularly the elderly, to stay in, keep their windows shut and avoid physical exercise.

Schools in the area have closed until further notice.

The fire services are continuing to battle with the fire on the site, but they expect that it will take three or four more days to put it under control.

Environmental groups are estimating that the fire has emitted significant amounts of dioxins and dangerous particulates in the atmosphere around the capital.

The research centre director of the Athens Observatory, Mr Gerasopoulos, said he could not make a statement about the degree of pollution before the results of a study his department is carrying out are published.