Nuclear plant potential hazard to Cyprus

Plans to build a nuclear power plant at Akkuyu, Mersin, located only 90 km away from Cyprus, have sparked heated debate about the potential risks to Cyprus and the surrounding region, ‘Kibris Postasi’ reports.

Despite the fact that Cyprus is nearer to the proposed plant than Mersin’s city centre, Cyprus and its waters were excluded from the Environmental Impact Assessment. However, according to the experts, the plant presents considerable risks for Cyprus. In addition to that experts warn that even if the plant functions without problems, the routine operations of the Akkuyu plant may be damaging to the environment and human health.

President of the Cyprus Turkish Chamber of Environmental Engineers Nilden Bektaş told ‘Kibris Postasi’ that no one knows how the nuclear waste will be removed:

“The companies whose main intention is to make profits do not show the necessary attention to nuclear waste management. These are radioactive wastes and their management are costly. Removing 1000 tonnes of nuclear waste costs around 500-600 thousand dollars and a company who is focusing on making profit will try to handle the waste management in a cheaper way and that is a risk for all of us” said Bektaş.

Leader of Green Action Movement Doğan Sahir warned that the very existence of the plant close by will have negative effects on Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean. “Even a slight increase of plant’s temperature will affect us the most. Whether or not an accident happens the particles that will come out from the plant will reach us through airstreams. When it rains the particles that are in the airstream will come down to the land and may contaminate our soil and our water. In the long run this radioactive particles will accumulate and become a serious threat to the ecosystem and human health” warned Sahir.

He added that any accident at the plant could be a disaster since the water that will be transferred from Turkey may also be contaminated with nuclear particles. “The plant will be very close to the Anamur dam where the water that will be transferred to Cyprus is planned to be reserved. The radioactive particles could easily reach to the damn and contaminate the water. The water that will be brought from Turkey is promoted as the “water of peace, water of life” but this water will become the water of death”, said Sahir.

Sahir went on to say that a nuclear plant with this proximity could potentially damage the tourism sector as Cyprus will fall down the list of international tourist destinations.

President of the Turkish Chamber of Environmental Engineers Baran Bozoğlu also emphasised the importance of proper nuclear waste management and said that there is no technology in the world that can completely get rid of the waste. “The waste will not be stored in Turkey, according to the plans, the waste will be transferred to Russia but it is not yet clear if it will be carried through sea ways or from land. But the sea route would be more practical for them and this means a huge threat to the marine life in the Eastern Mediterranean”, said Bozoğlu.

Even if no accident happens, as sea water will be used for the cooling of the plant this would still have negative effects on the marine ecosystem, he concluded.

*One of the most controversial issues about the proposed Akkuyu nuclear plant is whether a nuclear station at that site will be acceptably safe from earthquake damage. Independent research has indicated that an active fault line, known as the Ecemis Fault is close to the plant. Ignoring this strong evidence, the government of Turkey and the nuclear vendors have maintained that there is no active faulting in the vicinity of the plant, and that there is negligible danger of a nuclear accident being caused by an earthquake.

Earthquakes can simultaneously damage multiple operating and safety systems in nuclear reactors, leading to a catastrophic accident that could cause an unimaginable disaster in the eastern Mediterranean region. One independent team of nuclear experts has already determined that for the Darlington nuclear generating station in Ontario, Canada (which has less earthquake risk than a plate boundary area such as Akkuyu), the most likely cause of a catastrophic accident is an earthquake The same finding would also likely hold true for a nuclear station built at Akkuyu in Turkey. Canadian earthquake expert Dr. Karl Buckthought has suggested that there is “an unacceptable level of risk associated with the proposal to place nuclear reactors at Akkuyu Bay”.

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