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Groups unit to call for halt to Turkish nuclear plant

Rebecca Harm

By Evie Andreou

The Mediterranean must not suffer a nuclear catastrophe like those seen in Chernobyl and Fukushima said organisations from Cyprus, Greece and Turkey that joined forces on Saturday to state their opposition to the construction of a nuclear power plant on Turkey’s southern coast.

The bicommunal Cyprus Anti-Nuclear Platform, in cooperation with environmental organisations from Turkey and the support of the European Greens, organised a conference in the buffer zone to discuss the negative impact a nuclear power plant would have in the Mediterranean region and signed a declaration urging Turkey to abort plans for the construction of the plant.

They also called for the formation of a Network for a Nuclear Free Mediterranean.

Key-note speaker at the event was Rebecca Harms, co-president of the Greens–European Free Alliance group in the European parliament. Also present were Cypriot MEPs, Environment Commissioner Ioanna Panayiotou, Green Party chairman George Perdikis and members of non-governmental organisations.

Speakers said that apart from the negative impact the power plant will have on the surrounding environment, it could also be a nuclear accident waiting to happen.

Turkey is no stranger to earthquakes as it sits on a seismically active area within the zone of collision between the Eurasian Plate and both the African and Arabian Plates.

Harms said that nuclear danger should not be added in an earthquake zone. She added that earthquake-prone countries like Greece and Italy do not have nuclear power plants and neither should Turkey.

The declaration states the opposition of “the inhabitants of the Mediterranean region… to the establishment of a nuclear power station in Akkuyu, Mersin for the sake of our safety and due to our responsibility to protect the living organisms and the ecosystem in the Mediterranean”.

It adds that Turkey’s plans to construct the nuclear power plant are outdated since they date back to the 1970s and that “not only does Turkey’s decision pose a risk to the future of the Mediterranean, but it also contravenes the Mediterranean Action Plan, established under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)…, and the Barcelona Agreement… where Turkey is a member”.

For the construction of the plant, Turkey signed an agreement with Russia in 2010. Engineering and survey work started at the site in 2011, while the construction of the first unit will begin in 2016, with four units put into service in between 2020 and 2022.

“The International Agreement signed between the governments of the Republic of Turkey and the Russian Federation does not specify where and how the nuclear waste will be stored, does not designate responsibility in the case of an accident, and does not indicate how and by whom the accident will be managed,” the declaration said.

It adds that the water discharge that the nuclear power station will obtain from the sea will increase the sea’s caloric temperature up to 33 degrees celcius and that this will threaten sea organisms and endemic species living around the sea.

“The impact of the Chernobyl catastrophe in 1986 continues with the increased rate of cancer cases, congenital anomalies and other damage related to radiation in Turkey and other regions. Meanwhile, a higher rate of thyroid cancer is observed among children in Japan in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011,” the declaration said.

It adds that the question of what will be done with the 43 million tons of radioactive solid waste remains unanswered, while the abandoned station continues to emit radiation, and since the accident, 400 tons of radioactive reactor water discharge flows to the ocean on a daily basis and has now reached the Canadian shores.

“Under these circumstances, it will be clear that we are right to be worried about the Mediterranean,” the declaration said.

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