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Turkish ministry facing legal action over nuclear power plant

3 January 2015

Turkey’s Environment Ministry faces legal action over its decision to green light the building of a nuclear power station in Akkuyu, Mersin, ‘Hurriyet’ reports.

The Chamber of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB) is about to bring a lawsuit against the Environment Ministry following its hasty approval of a highly controversial environmental report on Turkey’s first nuclear plant.

After months of legal disputes over the 3,000 word report, permission was granted to build the plant one day before Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Ankara in December 2014.

The chamber said the final decision to build the power station was made by the minister himself, without consulting a nuclear expert.

“Can you imagine that the Environment Ministry, which approved the environmental impact assessment report doesn’t even have one nuclear engineer or expert?” Baran Bozoğlu, the head of the Environmental Engineers’ Chamber asked.

Bozoğlu maintains that the decision to build the plant, which will be built by the Russian company Rosatom, was unsound as it did not include a thorough assessment on how to process nuclear waste.

One of the main problems was lack of assessment on the environmental impact of seawater which will be used to cool the four-reactor plant and then returned to the sea.

“The report doesn’t indicate what will become of the nuclear waste during the five to seven years that are necessary until it cools. It doesn’t say anything either about the area that will be affected by radiation in a possible accident. This is why we will object to the ministry’s approval of the environment assessment report,” Bozoğlu said.

The newspaper says that the report was widely revised after being returned three times over the past two years.

Bozoğlu said that according to their own calculations, a vast area from Cyprus to Syria could be affected in the event of an accident. He was highly critical of that fact that no such data was included in the assessment report.

“They have hurriedly approved the report because Putin was coming when there were so many objections to it. But they eventually gave a go-ahead while they should have answered the criticism and found solutions to concerns,” he said.

Russian state-run Rosatom, said the plant would have a lifespan of a century, adding that Russia would provide $4 billion from its state budget for the project.

However, local activists and political opponents have been harshly critical over the agreement to build the plant, including CHP’s Aytup Atıcı who alleged that the Russian president was “bribed” with the environmental report.

He also indicated that more legal action was in the pipeline. Atıcı said he expected lawsuits to be brought to the Constitutional Court to stop the construction of the plant.

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