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Turkey

In Turkey, A 100-Mile Show Of Hands Against First Nuclear Plant

Activists say earthquake-prone Turkey risks a Fukushima-style disaster if plans go ahead to build the massive Akkuyu power plant along the Mediterranean coast.

Construction set to begin soon on a nuclear plan along Turkey's Mersin coast
Construction set to begin soon on a nuclear plan along Turkey's Mersin coast
Ali Şen, Mehmet Okur and A. Rıza Eren

MERSIN – Holding hands to form a 100-mile human chain, thousands of anti-nuclear activists gathered in southern Turkey over the weekend to protest plans to build the country's first nuclear power plant.

Construction on the Akkuyu facility is set to begin next month in Mersin. Opponents worry that the plant could be prone to the same kind of disaster that has hit the Fukushima plant following the March 11 earthquake in northern Japan

Sebahat Aslan, a spokeswoman for Mersin Against Nuclear Power, said that accidents in nuclear power plants like Chernobyl and Fukushima threaten the future of the entire planet. "We want to thank all our friends, joining us and echoing the call that Turkey will not be another Japan," Aslan said. "We are here today to warn the government again, and tell them that we don't want nuclear power plants. Those who want to make a nuclear dumpster out of our country and produce nuclear weapons here will not reach their goals."

Turkey is crisscrossed by fault lines that produce frequent – and at times powerful – earthquakes. In March 2010, a 6.1-magnitude temblor near the eastern city of Bingöl killed more than 50 people. Eleven years earlier, a pair of large earthquakes – measuring 7.6 and 7.2 – killed more than 20,000 people in northwestern Turkey.

Following the rally and speeches, activists held hands and formed the human chain along coastal roadways to the town of Gülnar, with pedestrians and drivers waving and honking in support.

Zafer Taşdemir says his prostate cancer and his wife's breast cancer was caused by exposure to radioactive rain after the Chernobyl nuclear accident. "We don't want such dangerous power in Akkuyu," he said at the protest. "Other people should not be exposed to cancer like my family was."

‘Don't Touch My Strawberries ‘

Also over the weekend, there was another protest against the building of a thermoelectric, fossil-fuel burning power station in Adana, a city in southern Anatolia, and a major agricultural and commercial center. Shouting slogans such as "We don't want poisonous chimneys," the villagers said the power station would endanger the area's agricultural production.

Residents in Bartın also protested against a planned thermoelectric station in the region, driving a 75-vehicle caravan from Bartın to Amasra in northern Anatolia to raise awareness of an even bigger demonstration planned for April 22. Association members carried signs saying "Don't touch my strawberries," "No to the thermal power station" and "Go away poison traders." The mayor of Amasra, Emin Timur, declared: "Amasra is too precious to be sacrificed to greed and irresponsibility."

Turkey currently generates about 80% of its electricity with thermoelectric plants. Its other principal power source are hydroelectric dams. The $20 billion nuclear plant planned for Mersin, on Turkey's Mediterranean coast, could eventually have an installed capacity of 5,000 megawatts (MW), equivalent to approximately 9% of the country's total generating capacity.

Photo - alanlpriest

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