Black Flags for 71 Athens Beaches Declared Unsafe


FILE - A week after a tanker sank at the Saronic Gulf causing oil spill. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Giannis Panagopoulos)

ATHENS – Two months after finishing second in the world, winning Blue Flags for 519 beaches, Greek beaches around Athens undercut the finding when 71 of 323 were found unfit for swimming and dangerous, including along the so-called Athens Riviera.

That was the result of an inspection by the Panhellenic Center for Ecological Research in the Greek capital’s Attica region, giving failing marks to popular beaches in parts of Glyfada, Voula, and Kavouri, as well as the celebrated, shaded beach of Schinias at Marathon.

The inspectors found they were unclean, said Kathimerini, after the area had been declared free of oil after a tanker sank off Piraeus last year and dumped its cargo into the waters and on the beaches there.

Researchers with the center, which is a member of the United Nations Environmental Program, checked the waters at 323 beaches for Enterococci, e-coli and fecal coliforms, as well as for pollution from household detergents, mineral oils and phenols.

From the samples, they deemed that bathing is dangerous as well at Elefsina, Neraki in Nea Peramos, Salamina beach, Kakia Skala, Kineta (Aghioi Theodoroi), Kakia Thalasa (Keratea), Artemida (Loutsa), Schinias, Aghia Marina on the north, Oropos (Faros), Skala Oropou, Avlaki, Aghios Kosmas, the left side of Floisvos, Aghia Marina on the southern coast, Alexandras Square beach in Piraeus, Alepohori, Porto Germeno (Aghios Nikolaos), Salamina Bay and Xeno beach. The remainder of the beaches inspected was ruled safe for the public if they want to risk it.

In May, Greece was second in the world among 47 countries whose beaches were surveyed, winning 12 percent of all the awards, with the Halkidiki area earning 89 Blue Flags.

That was based on cleanliness, the organization of the beach, security of visitors, protection of nature and environmental sensitivity.

According to The Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature, the national operator of the Blue Flag program, the blue flag is the most recognizable ecological symbol in the world.