An initiative for declaring PYRKAL

Read the following letter and send it to the Greek Prime Minister.

Open letter to the Greek Prime Minister

  • Dear Prime Minister,

    During your recent visit to Eleusis you said that the city is not a poor relative in need of assistance and you suggested that it should promote its valuable cultural and industrial heritage.

    In this spirit, we are reaching out to you to request your intervention and support in the universal demand of declaring the PYRKAL industrial site in Eleusis a HISTORIC SITE, as well as the designation of select factory buildings as monuments, according to the decision adopted by the Central Council of Modern Monuments on 27 June 2019. When PYRKAL in Eleusis ceased to operate, the site was acquired by Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE). The Executive Chairman of ELPE stated that the company’s intention was to establish a safety zone between the refinery and the populated areas of the municipalities of Eleusis and Mandra (“To Vima”, 07/05/2017).

    The site of PYRKAL has all the necessary attributes to be declared a Historic Site according to the Greek Cultural Heritage Law (article 2, section D). The facilities of PYRKAL are an extraordinary example of the first (and for many decades the only) defence industry company in Greece. As such, PYRKAL has a variety of features that make it a unique and comprehensive monument of national significance: buildings, mechanical equipment, archival material, know-how and labour memories as evidenced by the workers’ oral testimonies (both men and women, since the latter comprised a notable percentage of the factory’s labour force). All these elements are present in the PYRKAL historic site in Eleusis and serve as a manifestation of eight decades of social, economic, and industrial history of Eleusis and Greece in general.

    Following an impeccable process that included two meetings and an on-site inspection, the Central Council of Modern Monuments decided on 27 June 2019 to proclaim the grounds of PYRKAL a Historic Site and declared 13 buildings as listed monuments. The decision was incorporated into the Ministerial Decision of 5 July 2019, which was never published in the Greek Government Gazette (FEK) due to the elections.

    The decision was widely acclaimed by established and well-respected associations and societies for the protection of the architectural and industrial heritage (ΜONUMENTA, Hellenic Society of Environment and Culture, Hellenic ΙCOMOS, Hellenic ΤΙCCIH, Association des Architectes Diplomés SADAS - Attica). Their memoranda and interventions supported what is self-evident: the need to declare PYRKAL a Historic Site. The resolution of the Central Council of Modern Monuments was also a great cause of joy for the people of Eleusis and the Thriasian Plain as a rare positive example in a long line of unfavourable and detrimental decisions adopted throughout the years by every Greek government regarding the so-called “backyard of Attica”. However, the failure to publish the decision due to the dissolution of the legislature and the call of the 2019 elections, as well as the submission of objections by ELPE (as stated by Ministry of Culture staff), enabled the Minister of Culture to request a new opinion on the matter by the Central Council of Modern Monuments.

    According to the resolution adopted by the Municipal Council of Eleusis on 20 November 2019, and letters submitted to the Minister of Culture by the associations and societies for the protection of the architectural and industrial heritage, there is no reason to request a new opinion by the Central Council of Modern Monuments, since the current opinion is recent, effective, legal, and scientifically sound.

    The failure to publish the ministerial decision for purely procedural reasons does not preclude the new administration from signing and publishing the aforementioned decision. Such an act would aptly demonstrate the desire to alleviate some of the suffering Eleusis has had to endure for many decades as a result of governmental actions or even inertia.

    The declaration of PYRKAL as a Historic Site does not affect in the least the reasons for the grounds’ acquisition by ELPE, namely the establishment of a safety zone (SEVESO III)

    For these reasons we call upon you Prime Minister,

    To take all the necessary measures for the expeditious and appropriate conclusion of the process of declaring PYRKAL a historic site, including the publication of the decision in the Greek Government Gazette in order to preserve the industrial heritage of Eleusis, which (incidentally) was almost completely demolished in 2017, and to secure the vital role of the site as a SAFETY ZONE.
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