In September 2017 the concession of 4.187 square kilometers for research and hydrocarbon mining in Epirus to the multinational company Repsol and Gas was signed from the minister of energy and environment G. Stathakis. The area of research and mining in Ioannina is Kalpaki, Pogoni municipality, near Zagori. But the concession area is larger and includes the Zagori municipality, a large part of Thesprotia region including Kalamas river after its delta in Sagiada. In the first phase the geophysics seismic research is included in the area of Zitsa and the municipalities of Souliou, Filiates, and Igoumenitsa. The research will be continued in Dodoni, Pogoni and Zagori, with the aim that until the end of the next year the total of kilometers that are to be researched must be finished, while in 2021 the first drillings are expected for hydrocarbon at zones of Ioannina and Thesprotia. The unavoidable results, among others, concern the danger of releasing in the atmosphere hydrogen sulfide which is a colorless, poisonous, erosive, inflammable and explosive gas. This put us in risk of wildfire caused by the explosion of the inflammable gas in combination with the lush vegetation of Epirus. This could turn the whole area into an inferno, during the period of summer. A nightmare that we live every year in Greece even without the hydrogen sulfide. Undeniable is also the contamination of water which consists the actual richness and common good for the residents of the area. We all know about the war that has started concerning urban water and about bottling companies. Lastly, we might have a possible landslide and other soil problems while risk of earthquake.
One of the most important matters about land and marine mining is the increased possibility of accident. Like the recent case of Salamina and the leak of mazut at the Saronic Gulf and Piraeus. We remember the tragedy that took place at the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, an explosion at the facilities of BP 1.600 meters under water allowed the oil and gas leak till the platform “Deepwater Horizon”, which was sunk and led to the death of 11 workers. It is clearly that despite the rhetoric about profitability for the local community the only ones that benefit from that are the joint-venture Energean Oil and Gas / Petra and others, institutional or not, that are involved. The local community will receive only burned soil. In the name of “national aim” or public interest, state and multinational companies contribute to social destabilization and the environmental destruction of entire areas. The “new jobs” is only the bait before the trap. The “development” that comes to “save us” concerns outdated energy forms in a country “virgin” of heavy industrialization, resulting with mathematical precision to grieving. More specifically about the few and temporary new working positions, how many fields will be ruined, how many herds will be wiped out, what will remain of our land?
With the contract of concession for research and hydrocarbon exploitation in Epirus, the Minister of Energy and Environment G. Stathakis together with representatives of associates from the joint-venture are destroying yet another place. The prospect of exploration and mining of hydrocarbons in areas near Ioannina caused the residents’ protests, in the areas included in the plan and of the basin. The people of the surrounding villages have created a civil movement against research and mining named “Save Epirus: No on land extraction of hydrocarbons “. In a short period of time the initiatives were multiplied. Following an event organized by the Anti-authoritarian Movement, an initiative named the “Open Meetings in Ioannina against mining” was created. Initiatives followed in Athens, Arta, Preveza, Thesprotia, Ithaca/Kefalonia. The latest research news are about the work that has already begun through the Italian company Geotech, which has begun deforestation by opening paths, cutting trees and putting ribbons and stakes by defining the areas for mining and in some places the first phase of the investigation, the seismic eruptions are already under way. Residents and solidaries have been able, in some cases, to prevent the crew, which were unable to show the necessary licenses and were forced to leave.
Note here that there is no danger signage in the area where the work has started, increasing the risk of accidents. In addition, the interventions in the field has shown us the huge rigs that the company is trying to install, which are transported by helicopter. With the presence of an intervention team, one of these helicopters stopped its route, a security car appeared and started the threats. Still, the police in the area asked for the details of the people who participated in the intervention without any reason whatsoever, since as we said there is no indication of a construction site. We have seen the police forces in several interventions so far, in the ancient theater of Dodoni, in an intervention against sponsorship of oil companies at the Dodoni festival, at the Herodion on the Pan-Epirotic feast, at the event for the mining at the Cultural Venue Dimitris Hatzis with speaker El. Konofagos.
In their multipronged attacks we respond with collective struggles for nature and freedom, in direct solidarity with the struggle of Chalkidiki against Eldorado Gold and the struggle of Acheloos against the Mesochora dam. While people like Kahrimanis and Kalogiannis sell out to multinationals, we will prioritize the need for social control and direct-democratic energy management.