[email protected]

March 27, 2012, Tuesday

What does it take to build a nuclear power plant?

Don’t we have a power plant risk already? Georgia, Armenia, Iran and Bulgaria all have close-by nuclear power plants that could affect Turkey. Now there is a big debate over whether we should have one in Turkey.

In May 2010, Turkey and Russia signed a deal for the construction of Turkey’s first nuclear power plant in Akkuyu, a small, beautiful town on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. It is expected to cost about $20 billion. Russian state-owned atomic power company ROSATOM is preparing to start building the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, producing 1,200 megawatts by 2013. The deputy undersecretary for the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Sedat Kadıoğlu, says, “Turkey is the only member country of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD] that does not have a nuclear plant,” and he believes that we should have one.

I am trying to understand the matter by looking at both sides. If I put myself in the shoes of the government, which has to provide the electricity needed for growth and bearing in mind that we already are at risk because of our neighbors, I think the government has a case. However, shouldn’t we be focusing on clean energy sources?

An environmental impact report (EIR) was submitted to the Turkish authorities about this nuclear plant. I am really wondering what is written in that report about the fact that the nuclear plant will be on a beautiful coastline, surely the last place to erect a nuclear plant.

I think this matter should be decided in a referendum. It is worthwhile discussing the matter since this is such an important one. Once it is implemented, it is impossible to return to a time before nuclear power. Scientists say that Turkey is opting for outdated technology.

Finally, Greece is bringing the matter before the European Union to challenge Turkey’s plans to build a nuclear power station. Greek Cyprus has stated that it will raise its concerns over the same issue and sees the matter as a risk since the distance to Akkuyu is shorter than that from Athens to southern Cyprus.

Only this week the Turkish Prime Ministry released a circular to stop all bureaucratic slowdown or anything that could prevent the plan from going forward. The circular (no. 2012/8) is specific in asking all local authorities to accelerate and ease the applications and operations about the Akkuyu nuclear power plant. The subject is “The Project of the Nuclear Power Plant in Akkuyu.” The Prime Ministry believes the matter is an important step towards energy independence. The circular reads as follows: “It is important to use local and renewable energy at a maximum level to increase energy efficiency; the electricity generated in the nuclear power plants will support the power supply of Turkey. It is important for the security of the power supply in our country, to meet the ever-growing electricity demand and to reduce dependence on imported energy and the current nuclear energy deficit.”

It is intended that nuclear power will be used as a source for electricity according to the 9th Development Plan (2007-2013), to increase the percentage of plants generating electricity and to continue the work of using nuclear power plants in generating electricity according to the Electricity and Energy Market – Security of Supply Strategy Paper accepted by the Higher Planning Council on May 18, 2009 numbered 2009/11.

In line with this purpose, on May 12, 2010, the Agreement Between the Government of the Republic of Turkey and the Government of the Russian Federation on Cooperation in Relation to the Construction and Operation of a Nuclear Power Plant at the Akkuyu Site in the Republic of Turkey has been signed and approved according to the law numbered 6007 and dated 15/7/2010, published in the Official Gazette numbered 27721, dated 6/10/2010.

Within the scope of the project of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, the coordination between state institutions and organizations will be facilitated by the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources. All the transactions will be conducted by state institutions and organizations. It is a serious step to accelerate the matter, and I believe that this should be discussed at length and in detail. Every single citizen should have something to say about this.

NOTE: Berk Çektir is a licensed attorney at law and available to answer questions on the legal aspects of living in Turkey. Please kindly send inquiries to [email protected] If a sender’s letter is published, names may be disclosed unless otherwise expressly stated by the sender.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided here is intended to give basic legal information. You should get legal assistance from a licensed attorney at law while conducting legal transactions and not rely solely on the information in this column.

Previous articles of the columnist