Theater of Cruelty

Meets resistance

Turkish authorities are proving by keeping secret plans for nuclear power plants.


By Egil Guthormsen

[energy policy] Residents of Turkey's northernmost city of Sinop are feeling a growing unrest after the authorities have decided to start building a nuclear power plant within the municipal boundaries. As Turkey enters the nuclear age, the Black Sea city is out first. Later, the cities of Konya and Mersin will also get their nuclear facilities.

Nuclear power plans surprise and provoke many Turks today, though they will create

jobs. The Chernobyl accident in neighboring Ukraine in April 1986 is still deep in people's consciousness.

power Crisis

According to the Turkish Ministry of Energy, Turkey is facing a formidable increase in energy consumption and therefore needs a solid energy consumption.

access. Gas deliveries from Russia and Iran are uncertain, and oil and gas price increases have led to skyrocketing electricity prices. Nuclear power sails up as the government's alternative.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has therefore presented a plan to build three nuclear power plants. All three plants will be completed in 2012. Sinop is due to start construction next year.

- Turkey is facing a real power crisis unless we do something now, Bulent Ismen explains in the Ministry of Energy.

- We need 54.000 new megawatts by the year 2020 to cover demand and sufficient power reserve supply. The nuclear power plants will cover ten percent of this increase.

Now the environmental movement in Turkey is responding. Oya Koca in the newly founded organization Sinop Bizim (Our Sinop) believes that the environmental aspect has been pushed under the carpet and that the construction of wind farms can produce twice as much as the planned nuclear power plants. Such building plans are not available to the authorities today.

Strong resistance

The plans for nuclear development have been a hot pot for the Ankara authorities for almost 30 years. The discussion is influenced by both the energy demand and the price level of electricity, in this large country with its 73 million inhabitants. Social Democrat and former Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit stated in 2000 that "since the rest of the world is abandoning nuclear power as an energy supply, Turkey should do the same". He also stressed that Turkey should reduce its CO2 emissions. This should be done through increased use of gas power instead of coal power, as well as environmentally friendly energy sources such as solar and wind power.

Koca in Sinop Bizim says from Istanbul: – Wind power is a real alternative. We have an extremely long coastal strip with a lot of wind. It offers great potential for energy recovery.

- The Ministry of Energy does not provide information to the local authorities. On the contrary, only Erdogan's government and contacts with the United States are informed. Since Turkey is part of the US Global Partnership, almost no one in the UN system or other countries is critical of what is happening, says the environmental activist.

She thinks the authorities are talking in riddles to the public. The only thing they say straight out is that nuclear power plants should be built and that energy is environmentally friendly.

- A pure lie, because they do not say that extraction of uranium and storage of enriched uranium can be extremely dangerous for humans and nature. Is there a crisis management plan in case of an accident? We know nothing, because now everything is secret, and it worries people in Sinop and Turkey in general. It should also concern our neighboring countries and in Europe.

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