Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on Tuesday inaugurated a sewage treatment plant in the Thessaloniki district Lagada, during a visit to the northern Greek city that began on Monday. Local officials said the sewage treatment plant was among the biggest infrastructure projects in the area and was completed in 2002 but had not been able to operate because there had been no provision to link the plant with the city's sewage network.

This had caused extensive problems with pollution in the region, especially for Lake Koronia that received much of the urban sewage.

The Patriarch went on to inaugurate a research centre for Alzheimer's and the study of old age, again in Lagada, and a hall named after him at the International Academy of Theological and Philosophical Studies 'Sts Cyril and Methodius'.

After concluding his visit to Lagada on Tuesday, the Patriarch is due to return to Fanar, Istanbul on Wednesday morning. His tour of northern Greece, including a visit to Mount Athos, was held to mark the 20th anniversary since his enthronement as Patriarch.