Turkish environmental groups are calling for increased awareness against toxic waste dumping like that in Lebanon. Toxic dumping is taking place in the Caldag region, about 60 km east of Izmir, where a mining concession was given to a UK mining company, Sardes Nickel. Operations started in 2004 to explore and mine deposits of nickel ore located under some of Turkey’s most fertile farm land. The mining, operation according to an article in the Todays Zaman news site will involve using a similar method of “heap leaching” that utilizes sulfuric acid, one thousand kilograms of acid per ton of crushed ore — to dissolve the target mineral.
“Heap leaching” to the Extreme
This way of “finding” the nickel bearing ore is similar to what was done for 60 years in Cyprus by an American company, Cyprus Mines corporation (CMC), which caused large amounts of toxic wastes to be deposited in the mining areas. Toxic materials like petroleum and cyanide were dumped there and which will take decades to remove.
Like a Death Trap
The situation of the former mining area in Northern Cyprus, controlled by Turkey, is in fact so bad that the case is going to be brought before the International Court of Justice in the Hague. People who have visited in dumping site say the following about its present condition:
“We have been coming back and forth to this site since 1995. The picture is horrible. It is like a death trap. There were pyrites and mountains sprayed with cyanide everywhere and open pools. You can’t walk around for more than 30 minutes because your throat begins to burn from the sulfur.”
Toxic wastes dumping is an issue that many countries have to deal with, including that caused by disposing of toxic wastes from nuclear power plants.
The Turkish Foundation for Reforestation, Protection of Natural Habitats and Combating Soil Erosion (TEMA) has studied the Sardes case and now claim that the Sardes Nickel Company is not only planning to use the heap leaching method, but recommend that it be used elsewhere as a way to extract the nickel from the ore.
For their side, Sardes claims that “green activists” have misled the public into believing that this mining method is unsafe, and even consider the claims made by TEMA as false.
In light of what happened in Cyprus, the claims concerning using toxic chemicals to extract the metal, and afterwards dumping the wastes nearby are valid enough to bring to the country’s environment ministry’s attention. According to TEMA vice president Deniz Attack:
“We are not against mining, but it should not harm the environment. The company was trying to do this in one of Turkey’s and the world’s most fertile areas. It will affect the local people’s health and their future.”
Read more on toxic waste issues and waste dumping issues in Middle East:
Top image via wikipedia