Elefsina Bay industrial activities, Greece

In Elefsina city (Attica region) several industries are in operation. Environmental degradation is a major problem, as law enforcement is very low. Citizens commitees are struggling for respect of environmenal laws and a healthier environment


Elefsina is a city located in the south east of Athens in Thriassion Pedio in Attica region coastal zone. The city is inhabited since 1600 BC and it was one of the 5 holly cities of the antiquity. At the end of the 19th century the first industries were located in the area. The construction of the railway, as well as the opening of the Corinth canal accelerated the procedures of industrial development. In the beginnings of the 20th century the population was doubled due to the settlement of refugees from Minor Asia and a military airport was constructed. After the 2nd World War the industry facilities were developed unregulated within the archaeological sites and the city. In the begging of ‘70s a USA marine military base was also constructed and its operation stopped in 1974 [1]. The unregulated expansion of industries and the incomplete legal framework, downgraded the city environment. In addition to this, and as in the wider area of Elefsina several industries were also located with no plans, the whole area is seriously degraded. Even if it is a coastal city, the access to the seafront was restored barely at the end of ‘80s. The operation of the commercial harbour and of Hellenic Petroleum company (ELPE – called Petrola at that time), amongst others industrial facilities, lead to the further pollution of the sea, air and groundwater aquifers. Several industries are subject to Seveso-Directive legislation (concerning the prevention and control of major industrial accidents). [2, 3]. The Petrola petroleum company installed its facilities in the area in 1972 following the compulsory expropriation of 200 ha of land and 90 ha of sea. The refinery started its operation with a temporary licence in 1975. In 1979 it got a first permission for expansion, which was first blocked due to society’s mobilization. Since the late ‘70s, local society started to react, asking for stopping the pollution of the wider area and setting up a regulatory framework. Petrola’s operation was one of the main reasons of reaction since then and it continues to be. Between 1986 and 1991 the company proceeded to one more expansion. In October 1991 a referendum was organized in the city of Elefsina by civil society and the 98% of the residents voted against expansions.

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Basic Data
NameElefsina Bay industrial activities, Greece
SiteMunicipality of Elefsina
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Ship-breaking yards
Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Land acquisition conflicts
E-waste and other waste import zones
Oil and gas refining
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Ports and airport projects
Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)
Urban development conflicts
Manufacturing activities
Metal refineries
Chemical industries
Other industries
Specific CommoditiesCrude oil
Manufactured Products
Natural Gas
Chemical products
Tourism services
Industrial waste
Iron ore
Shipyard, commercial port, ammunition manufacturing, archaeological sites
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsN/A
Project Area (in hectares)3,706
Level of Investment (in USD) N/A
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population29,902 Municipality of Elefsina; 3,812,330 Attica Region
Start Date01/01/1972
Company Names or State EnterprisesHellenic Petroleum (ELPE) from Greece
Neorion Elefsis Shipyards from Greece
Hellenic Defence Systems S.A. (ΕΒΟ-PYRKAL) from Greece
TITAN Group from Greece
Hellenic Halyvourgia from Greece
Hellenic gas Transmission System Operator S.A. (DESFA) from Greece
Oil facilities from Greece - Oil products storage and trafficking facilities (TEXACO, BP MOBIL, HELLAS, ELINOIL, MAMIDAKIS)
Gas facilities from Greece - Gas storage, bottling and trafficking facilities (EKOLINA, Petrogaz, BP Hellas, Shell Gas, Prima Gas)
Relevant government actorsMinistry of Economy, Infrastructure, Marine and Tourism (called Ministry of Development) http://www.mindev.gov.gr/el/

Ministry of Reconstruction of Production, Environment and Energy (called Ministry of Environment, Spatial Planning and Public Works) http://www.ypeka.gr/Default.aspx?tabid=37&locale=en-US&language=el-GR

Elefsina Port Authority, commercial port, http://life-ole.gr/home
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersStruggle Committee against ELPE expansions and HALYVOURGIKI energy production plant, http://epitropiagona.blogspot.gr/

Oikopolis, http://xpolis.blogspot.gr/

Ecoeleysis, http://ecoeleusis.org/

Limni Koumoundourou (Komoundourou lake), http://limnik.blogspot.gr/;

Mediterranean SOS Network, www.medsos.gr;

Greenpeace Hellas, www.greenpeace.org/greece/el;

WWF Hellas, www.wwf.gr;
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingIndustrial workers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Referendum other local consultations
Street protest/marches
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Fires, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Oil spills, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths, Other Health impacts
OtherRespiratory disease
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseUnder negotiation
Development of AlternativesThe development of alternatives to the current situation in Elefsina is not a simple issue. As the wider area of Thriassion has been developed with no spatial planning and industrial facilities were built in the city and on the coastal line, civil society movements ask for the enforcement of environmental regulations and the stop of any new industrial plans for the area.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Despite civil society struggles and requests for law enforcement and for a regulatory frame for the operation of industries, the state and the competent ministries and authorities neglect their demands. As Elefsina, and the wider area, was developed as an industrial area, a considerable proportion of the residents work in the neighboring industries. Civil society asks for measures for the protection of the environment and habitants’ and workers’ health. Although, as some of the industries located in the area are very powerful, there are many incidents of corruption and the state doesn’t fulfill not even the minimum obligations emerging from the national and EU legal framework.
Sources and Materials

[2] EU, The Seveso Directive
[click to view]


Denis Guzzo, Wasting Mytholoy project
[click to view]


1] Municipality of Elefsina
[click to view]

[3] Ecological, Cultural Association of Chaidari
[click to view]

[4] Foteinakis K., 2015, My story, my sin: from the refineries of Petrola-ELDA to ELPE
[click to view]

[5] Mediterranean SOS Magazine, 2002, Elefsina: a city with two faces, Issue 34, January-March

[6] Greenpeace Greece, 2010, 20 years of action
[click to view]

[7] Sarantis T., 2015, The “accidents” of the past in ELPE refinery, Journal Efimerida ton Syntakton
[click to view]

[8] WWF Hellas, Problems in the operation of ELPE Refinery in Elefsina and the implementation of Seveso Directive
[click to view]

[9] Left.gr, 2015, Human error indicates the outcome for the murderous explosion in ELPE
[click to view]

[10] Efsyn.gr, 2015, In extremely critical condition three injured in ELPE, Journal Efimerida ton Syntakton
[click to view]

[11] Journal Rizospastis, 2015, Shocking testimony for ELPE: The "accident" was a prescribed crime
[click to view]

[12] Oikopolis, 2011, Local Authorities and citizen’s protest at the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, reacting to the creation of an energy production plant in HALYVOURGIKI, steel company
[click to view]

[13] Oikopolis, 2015, EMMERGENCY .... smoke and stench of the burned KDAY (Recyclable Materials Sorting Center) in Aspropyrgos has choke Athens,
[click to view]

Media Links

Agelastos petra, Documentary on contemporary Elefsina
[click to view]

Other Documents

Demonstration in ELPE Elefsina 15/7/2013
[click to view]

Accident in Petrola Elefsina, 1992
[click to view]

Demonstration in the city of Elefsina Elefsina, 2009
[click to view]

Poster Demonstration against ELPE expansion, 2008
[click to view]

Poster against PETROLA expansion
[click to view]

Αccident in ELPE 8 May 2015
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorErmioni Frezouli, Geography Department - Harokopio University Athens (HUA).
Last update12/03/2016