Hundreds of Turkish activists formed a human chain across a bridge over Istanbul’s Golden Horn on March 10, the day before the second anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that triggered the world’s second biggest nuclear energy accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. Turkey’s government expects work to begin on the country’s first nuclear power stations this year.
“No to Nuclear”
The activists, members of the Turkish Anti-Nuclear Platform (NKP) stood behind a banner reading “No to Nuclear” in the languages of all the countries that have expressed interest in building a nuclear power plant in Turkey, including Russia, South Korea, Japan, China, and Canada.
Turkey’s two planned nuclear power stations are set to be located at Akkuyu on the southern Mediterranean coast and Sinop, by the Black Sea. The design for the Akkuyu plant, on which construction is expected to begin this year, was revealed in July 2012.
At Sunday’s anti-nuclear event, as reported in Turkish independent media center Bianet (in Turkish), a spokesperson for the NKP gave a press statement explaining why the group opposes nuclear power in Turkey.
Not only did the disaster cost Japan hundreds of billions of dollars in damages and force 160,000 people to abandon their homes, said the statement, the consequences of Fukushima will stay with Japan for many years to come:
“Even today, high levels of radiation are being found in Japan’s soil and water… Mutations seen in the region’s butterflies are an omen of health problems that will be experienced in future years. According to the results of health screenings from Fukushima province released on Jan 21 2013, 44% of 95,000 children displayed thyroid abnormalities.”
What the nuclear disasters of the past several decades have taught the world, according to the NKP, is that “there is only one way to prevent nuclear disasters: don’t build nuclear power plants.”
Turkish PM “doesn’t take nuclear threat seriously”
Shortly after the Fukushima disaster, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gave a statement that anyone who wanted to live without risk could “not build crude oil lines in their country and not use gas in their kitchens.”
Despite the fact that many countries abandoned nuclear projects after the Fukushima meltdown, the NKP statement pointed out, Turkey charged ahead on its own plans to develop nuclear power.
The NKP is concerned, according to the statement, that Erdoğan “considers the nuclear threat equivalent to that of a gas explosion. It’s obvious that the government doesn’t take the nuclear threat seriously.”
Turkey not ready for nuclear?
A recent Greenpeace investigation into Turkey’s Nuclear Energy Institute (TAEK) and its careless response to high radiation levels at an abandoned lead factory used as a playground, raise further concerns over Turkey’s readiness to handle the consequences of nuclear energy.
If the Akkuyu plant is built as planned, for example, Russia has promised to ship all the waste from it back into Russia to be processed. But doing so, as the NKP statement pointed out, would require the waste to be loaded onto ships passing through the already over-crowded Bosphorus Strait, which bisects Istanbul.
In the event of an accident, not only would the Istanbul fishing industry essentially end forever, this city of nearly 20 million would be exposed to nuclear waste, with potentially catastrophic results.
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