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MIG to keep Vivartia listed October 10, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
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MIG to keep Vivartia listed, plans private placement

Marfin Investment Group (MIG) said yesterday it had increased its stake in listed food company Vivartia to 91.47 percent.

MIG intends to keep Vivartia listed and will proceed to a private placement of its shares to strategic and institutional investors, to be announced by the end of the month. The company has not yet decided on the number or price of the shares to be placed, but they will definitely cost more than 25 euros per share, the price MIG paid to acquire them.

Market worried consumers will build up heating oil reserves October 10, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy, Energy.
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Fuel traders warned yesterday of the risk of the accumulation of large reserves of heating oil in coming months, after the government backtracked on its attempt to level the taxes on diesel and heating oil, postponing it to January 2008.

Already, data from the Association of Oil Trading Companies in Greece (SEEPE) shows that within just one week of the announcement of the government’s intentions, the reserves for agricultural use of oil have risen fivefold as farmers rushed to obtain significant quantities before the new measure would have been enforced on October 15.

Market players suggest this phenomenon will spread by the end of the year, causing irregularities in the market and posing safety risks.

PPC plans to replace polluting energy plant October 10, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Energy.
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The Public Power Corporation (PPC) announced it will replace its heavily polluting power plant in Ptolemaida with a new “clean” unit with a capacity of 400 megawatts in the next few years.

At its meeting with local bodies, the utility’s administration also pledged to relocate the nearby villages of Pontokomi and Mavropigi, in the prefecture of Kozani, and to draft a strategic investment plan for the improvement of the environment by taking measures for the polluting mines.

Representatives of local authorities expressed their concern for the possibility of deindustrialization and rise of unemployment in the area if the recently published study by the company Booz Allen Hamilton is followed, concerning the reduction of lignite use for the production of electricity and the abandonment of certain plants.

The PPC President and CEO, Panayiotis Athanassopoulos, told the meeting that “PPC has to remain the flagship of energy,” adding that “the existence of a national energy entity is essential for the country.” He also argued that the company should have starting making major investments from 1990.

Some of the local representatives questioning Athanassopoulos said later he had not given them a clear answer as to which plants would close down according to PPC plans. However, it became obvious from the meeting and the statements by Athanassopoulos that PPC is planning by 2010-2011 to gradually close the plants at Ptolemaida that are part of the oldest and most polluting production unit in the area.

This summer, measurements found that the plant’s emissions were four to six times above permissible levels, while PPC believes the plant is near the end of its working life. When Athanassopoulos was asked about the fine imposed on PPC by the Environment Ministry for the plant, he offered his “great apologies for the pollution.”

The meeting further heard that the proportion of lignite used for energy production will decline from 62 percent today to 51 percent by 2016, although this is not related to the reserves in the Kozani-Ptolemaida basin, which could last until 2042. It was also decided to use local know-how and manpower for the creation of a natural gas unit by PPC in the future.

Anti-flood work halted due to Roman find October 10, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Greece News.
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Authorities in Laconia, in the southern Peloponnese, yesterday expressed concern after state archaeologists ordered workers cleaning the bed of a local river to suspend their activities as the ruins of an ancient Roman home may be on the site.

The Culture Ministry’s Central Archaeological Council (KAS) said the area around the River Kelefina, where works were under way, is an archaeological site and should be protected, although no ruins or artifacts have been found.

But local authorities said the clearing work is necessary and needs to be conducted regularly to keep the river from breaking its banks, causing flooding. “Just two weeks ago, the river flooded after 15 minutes of rain,” Laconia Prefect Constantinos Fourkas said. When it rains, all the water flows from the streams of Mount Parnon ends up in Kelefina, he said, adding that the risk of regional flooding was high.

Cyprus falcons killed by illegal hunters October 10, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus News, Nature.
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Gunmen in Cyprus have killed 46 threatened red-footed migrating falcons simply for target practice, bird conservation officials on the Mediterranean island charged yesterday.

Birdlife Cyprus Manager Martin Hellicar said farmers on Friday found the pellet-riddled birds lying in a tight cluster on a citrus farm west of the coastal resort of Limassol. Another six birds were found shot but still clinging on to life. Hellicar said exacerbating the killings was the fact that the red-footed falcon was recently upgraded from “vulnerable” to “globally near-threatened.”

Mount Parnitha ready for the rains October 10, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece News, Nature.
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Work to build anti-flood barriers on the slopes of Mount Parnitha, ravaged in a huge fire in June, is virtually complete, forest authorities said yesterday.

“In a few days, we’ll be done,” said the President of the Organization overseeing Mount Parnitha, Dimitris Spathis. Some 3,000 kilometers of trunks, from the trees burned in the blaze, have been laid out on the mountain’s slopes to protect residential areas beneath them from flooding when the first rains come.

Despite the preparations, residents of nearby residential areas are awaiting the first heavy rainfall nervously. “That will be the first test, if the mountain handles that then we can relax,” a resident of Aspropyrgos said.

Meanwhile, regrowth on the forest’s charred land is progressing well, environmentalists say. “The return of the vegetation has been spectacular,” said forestry expert Panayiotis Latsoudis, who has been monitoring the regeneration of Parnitha on a daily basis since the fire. The first sign of regrowth was the sprouting of wild asparagus a few weeks after the fire. Since then shrubs growing at low levels on the mountain have reached half a meter in height, Latsoudis said. Cyclamens and other hardy bulbs have resurfaced very quickly. “We’ve got a foothold now and things are improving steadily,” Latsoudis said.

One unfortunate development in the Parnitha area is the killing, by illegal hunters, of more than 50 red deer, a protected species. According to environmentalists, illegal hunters have eluded arrest by seeking their prey at night and using silencers on their guns to avoid attracting the attention of forest rangers. The deer have become more vulnerable to hunters as their natural protection, the forest itself, has disappeared.

In a bid to heighten public awareness about the protection forests need, but also to promote ecotourism, a trek is being organized this weekend in the Virgin Forest in western Rhodope, northern Greece. The 108-kilometer trail, crossing through pristine forestland accommodating several protected species, is being promoted “so people can understand the significance of protecting such an area,” organizers said.

Greenpeace calls for push to save energy October 10, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Energy, Environment.
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Environmentalist group Greenpeace called on the government yesterday to introduce incentives for better energy efficiency in buildings, in line with EU directives.

Greenpeace said that buildings consume one-third of the total energy in the country and account for 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions.

“And yet there is no consistent and ambitious program for increased energy efficiency in buildings,” said the head of Greenpeace in Greece, Nikos Charalambidis. “The two most important EU directives: for energy efficiency of buildings and the promotion of a national action plan… are not being implemented.”

The environmentalists said they are leading by example and have moved ahead with minor changes to an old building that houses their offices in Athens in changes that have boosted energy efficiency by 50 percent.