News / Europe

Turkey Presses Ahead With Nuclear Power Plant Plans

Activists march during a protest against the Turkish government's plans to build a nuclear power plant in the country in Istanbul March 19, 2011.  The banner reads, "No no no."
Activists march during a protest against the Turkish government's plans to build a nuclear power plant in the country in Istanbul March 19, 2011. The banner reads, "No no no."

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +
Dorian Jones

The tide may have turned against nuclear power elsewhere, following the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in Japan, but Turkey is moving forward with its plans to build its first nuclear power plant.

On Istanbul's main high street, thousands of people protested against Turkey's nuclear energy program. The protest follows Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's announcement last week that the country is forging ahead in its plan to build its nuclear plant.

For one demonstrator this stance causes disbelief and fear.  

"I don't understand why he is so stubborn" he said. "There is an ongoing disaster and he just does not care. This unbelievable. It's dangerous in Chernobyl because of cancer, and I want my child grow up in a natural and healthy environment."

Japan's recent disaster resonates strongly with many Turks. The country has first hand experience of a nuclear disaster when the Chernobyl nuclear power station spewed radioactive fallout all over Turkey's Black Sea coast in 1986.

The only advice people received then was to stay at home, along with words of comfort from the then president Kenan Evren  "that radiation is good for the bones."   

Turkey is located in one of the most active earthquake regions in the world, and more than 90 percent of its territory is prone to earthquakes.

In 1999, the Istanbul region was hit by a powerful quake killing 30,000 people.  But Prime Minister Erdogan plays down the risks.

"Sure all the investments can have negative outcomes," he said. "But you can't give up your investments just because there can be some negative outcomes. We cannot say that there will be no earthquake. Sure it can be and our country is on a seismic zone. But we take all the precautions."

But  with leading nuclear energy users like Germany and China putting their own programs on hold, criticism is growing over the prime minister's stance.

Pinar Aksogan of the environmental group Greenpeace argues the disaster in Japan shows nuclear energy can never be truly safe.

"There are three reasons that nuclear power plants are always fragile: for natural disasters; for human faults; and, mistakes during their construction," he said. "So these three things can never be avoided. So its very obvious, the  whole world is rethinking of no longer building nuclear plants. So the insistence toward Turkey on building new plants is not logical."

Still, Turkey is forging ahead with its nuclear plans by recommitting itself to building three nuclear reactors, with construction on first starting as early as this April.

The program seeks to bridge the country's growing energy  gap, the result of its rapidly expanding economy.  

Turkish President Abdullah Gul, while voicing caution, says the nuclear program should continue.

"It is a fact that Turkey imports energy from abroad," he said. "I don't think it is right for Turkey to immediately give up on the plans for nuclear energy at once. After the Japan incidents these technologies should be reviewed and the contracts and ground work to be carried in minute details."

Experts says energy is seen as the Achilles' heel because it currently imports nearly 95 percent of its oil and gas. With most of the imports coming from volatile regions like Iran and Iraq and the Caucasus reducing that dependency is seen as key both for security and for economic reasons.

The controversy over Turkey's nuclear energy program has now spread beyond its borders. Turkey's European Union  neighbor Greece has reacted with alarm that Ankara is still continuing with its program. Turkey's  first nuclear power station will be located on the Mediterranean coast, not far from its Greek islands, in Akkuyu.

The Akkuyu site in particular is close to a fault line, as the government concedes. Small tremors are registered in the region almost daily, and a quake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale struck the nearby city of Adana in 1998.

Athens is  calling on Turkey to follow EU nuclear energy guidelines that restricts the building of nuclear reactors in such vulnerable places. But Ankara although its an EU candidate has dismissed the call saying its not bound by the guidelines as its not a member.

You May Like

'Exceptionally Lucky' US Boy Survives Flight in Wheel Well

The boy was unconscious for most of the flight, and appeared to be unharmed after enduring the extremely cold temperatures and lack of oxygen More

US Anti-Corruption Law Snags Major Tech Company

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter in December, 1977 More

Cameron Criticized for Calling UK 'Christian Country'

Letter from scientists, academics and writers says the prime minister is fostering division by repeatedly referring to England as a 'Christian country' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid