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Turkey ignores international safety guidelines on nuclear energy

1 June 2015

Many of the recommendations in a study by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on its bid to acquire nuclear energy, according to a document seen by Turkish daily ‘Hürriyet’, have not yet been fulfilled by Turkey.

Earlier last month, the Turkish Energy Ministry refused a local court’s request to see the IAEA report, which was handed to Turkish officials on Feb. 20 last year but not made public until now, on the Akkuyu nuclear power plant project, which will be developed by Russia in the country’s southern province of Mersin, citing state secret security as the reason.

The IAEA had prepared the mission report about the Akkuyu project, upon the government’s request and delivered it to Undersecretary of the Energy Ministry Metin Kilci and Turkish Atomic Energy Authority (TAEK) head Zafer Alper on Feb. 20, 2014, by hand.

The review became a subject of the court when a total of 86 legal and natural entities, filed a suit for a stay of execution of a court’s positive ruling on the Environment Impact Assessment report (ÇED) regarding the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant project, dated Dec. 1, 2014.

Energy Minister Taner Yıldız said last month that the report was outdated after daily Hürriyet published a story on its being classified as secret.

However, the 98-page report shows that little of the advice was heeded.

A leading absence is the definition “of a national policy for all kinds of radioactive waste and to identify the responsibilities of a national waste management organization.”

“The government of Turkey should develop a long-term plan for activities and facilities needed for radioactive waste management,” the report said.

One of the key items in the report is clarifying the roles of TAEK as an independent regulator, which was not realized despite the Nuclear Security Convention, which is signed by Turkey.

No steps were taken on the realization of demands by TAEK as well.

TAEK is still inspecting the placement of the plant.

“Turkey should ensure that the comprehensive nuclear energy law is promulgated as soon as possible and adequately addresses a number of important issues including the need to establish a regulatory body without promotional responsibilities and independent from entities having responsibilities or interests that could unduly influence its decision making; define the functions of the regulatory body and the responsibilities of authorized persons; and cover nuclear safety, security and safeguards,” the study said.

“Turkey should promulgate the last on civil liability for nuclear damage,” it added.

A lack of such steps makes the state solely responsible in the event of any accident.

Informing the public about the project was declared another failure.

No timely response to Hürriyet’s questions on the report were made by the Environment Ministry and Akkuyu Nükleer A.Ş., the Russian developer Rosatom’s arm founded for the Turkey plant, which said it had translated the report into Russian five days ago.

Alper said the responsibility to respond was held by the Energy Ministry, while Necati Yamaç, the undersecretary of the ministry, repeated in its response that the report was undated.

“The study is to reflect the nuclear infrastructure in our country as of November 2013,” he said in an emailed response.

To read the 24 recommendations click here.

Hurriyet

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