Turkey is being urged to abandon its plans to construct a nuclear power plant at Akkuyu in Mersin district.
The bi-communal Common Front against Nuclear in the Mediterranean met in the buffer zone in Nicosia on Saturday, to present their views and answer questions. Their view is that a nuclear power plant built on the shores of South Turkey, would negatively impact the environment and could potentially result in disaster, in the case of a nuclear accident.
The group which consists of members representing environmental platforms from North and South Cyprus and Turkey, called for the formation of a Network for a Nuclear Free Mediterranean.
Turkey signed an agreement with Russia in 2010 for the construction of a nuclear plant by partly state-owned Rosatom. Engineering and survey work started at the site in 2011. Construction of the first unit will begin in 2016, with four units coming into service in between 2020 and 2022.
Rebecca Harms, representing the Green Alliance in the EU parliament and key-note speaker, said that countries such as Greece and Italy had not built nuclear power stations because, like Turkey, they were prone to earthquakes. Turkey which sits on sits on a seismically active area within the collision zone between the Eurasian Plate and both the African and Arabian Plates, should not build nuclear plants, since they are a disaster waiting to happen, she said.
The group signed a declaration which details the opposition of “the inhabitants of the Mediterranean region… to the establishment of a nuclear power station in Akkuyu, Mersin for the sake of our safety and due to our responsibility to protect the living organisms and the ecosystem in the Mediterranean”.
Turkey has had plans to use nuclear energy since the seventies, however, the declaration reads, “not only does Turkey’s decision pose a risk to the future of the Mediterranean, but it also contravenes the Mediterranean Action Plan, established under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)…, and the Barcelona Agreement… where Turkey is a member”.
“The International Agreement signed between the governments of the Republic of Turkey and the Russian Federation does not specify where and how the nuclear waste will be stored, does not designate responsibility in the case of an accident, and does not indicate how and by whom the accident will be managed,” the declaration said.
It adds that the sea water discharged from the nuclear power station will raise the sea’s temperature up to 33 degrees C and that this will threaten marine organisms and native species living in the sea.
“The impact of the Chernobyl catastrophe in 1986 continues with the increased rate of cancer cases, congenital anomalies and other damage related to radiation in Turkey and other regions. Meanwhile, a higher rate of thyroid cancer is observed among children in Japan in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011,” the declaration said.
The declaration also states that there is no answer to the question of what will be done with the 43 million tons of radioactive solid waste, while the abandoned station continues to emit radiation, and since the accident, 400 tons of radioactive reactor water discharge flows to the ocean on a daily basis and has now reached the Canadian shores.
“Under these circumstances, it will be clear that we are right to be worried about the Mediterranean,” the declaration concludes.