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The nuclear lies of the Turkish Government

The advertising campaign for nuclear energy starts at the airport in Istanbul. Waiting for our suitcases we look at an poster advertising “Türkiye nükleer” which shows three young laughing boys:  "Strong Turkey will produce new clean energy - energy from the Akkuyu NPP ".

Also on the way to the hotel, on the bridges, on the tram, the same slogans for the Akkuyu nuclear power plant appear. Nuclear energy is being praised as being a clean, safe and sustainable energy on the road to an independent Turkey.  Prime Minister Erdogan and Minister of Energy Taner Yildiz show that they are determined to get two nuclear power plants at any cost. Ironically, the NPPs will be constructed by the corporations of those countries responsible for the largest nuclear catastrophes that took place in recent history: the Russian state company ROSATOM will built the NPP in Akkuyu, near the city of Mersin, and a consortium of the Japanese company Mitsubishi in collaboration with the French GDF Suez, will built the NPP in Sinop on the Black Sea.

The aim of our journey to Turkey is to support the Turkish anti-nuclear movement. We were invited to give lectures in Sinop, Samsun and Istanbul, where a broad resistance against the construction of NPP’s in Turkey has emerged. But the Turkish government is determined to enforce the nuclear projects against any resistance from the people. However, it remains unclear how the Turkish state wants to guarantee an independent nuclear regulatory body in the contract between Turkey and Russia, that assigns the financial and operational responsibility to the Russian operator ROSATOM. This point was also criticized by the experts of the supervisory authority of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency).

Since President Putin visited Turkey in early December 2014 and the Environmental Impact Report was published, protests continue against the planned nuclear power plant project in Akkuyu- Mersin on the south-eastern Mediterranean coast. However the objections of numerous citizens' initiatives against the NPP have been completely ignored by the Turkish authorities.

Shortly afterwards, in January 2015, the Turkish media reported that the company which had prepared the Environmental Impact Report had no professional experience in environmental issues. The signatures of expert engineers had been forged. Moreover, the Turkish nuclear physicist Hayrettin Kilic pointed out that the calculation of radioactive environmental contamination is extremely flawed and does not meet international standards. The Turkish Medical Association criticized the fact that health effects of low-level radiation in the vicinity of the reactor have not been taken into account and that there is no effective emergency planning. Many citizens, including the known environmental lawyer Arif Ali Cangi from Izmir, have filed a complaint with the Administrative Court because of miscalculations in the environmental assessment.

The current risk of earthquakes due to active fault lines located near Mersin-Akkuyu region is one of the main arguments of the antinuclear members from the citizens' initiative. On June 27th 1998 an earthquake with the magnitude of 6.3 shook the region of city Adana near Mersin and Akkuyu. At that time, 145 people died and about 1500 people were injured.

The construction of the nuclear power plant in Sinop on the Black Sea coast is also highly controversial. In 2013, two years after the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, the Erdogan government entered into an agreement with the Japanese government. In addition, the treaty with Japan specified that Turkey is allowed access to uranium enrichment technology, providing the possibility of proliferation. The contract has now been ratified by a majority in the Japanese Parliament.

There have also been peaceful and persistent protests in Sinop. On April 25th, the 29th anniversary of  the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, 40,000 anti-nuclear activists protested against the construction of nuclear power plants in Turkey and called on the government to finally set the course for an energy revolution, for solar and wind power in Turkey by law.

The “network for a nuclear free Mediterranean” will meet in Nicosia, Cyprus to strengthen resistance against the Akkuyu NPP.

Alper Öktem, Angelika Claussen


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