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Nuclear Plants in Turkey, Radiation Danger?

cyprus newsAfter Japan's Fukushima nuclear power station was damaged in the wake of an 8.9 magnitude earthquake, what guarantees do Turkey's neighboring countries have that the same situation will not arise after it builds its own plants?

Turkey is planning its first nuclear power plant to be built by Russia's Rosatom along its coastline in Akkuyu. But Turkey is in a region with four tectonic plates; the Hellenic fault which affect Cyprus, Crete, Rhodes; the Misis and Ecemis faults in Anatolia and the Dead Sea fault in the East Mediterranean (Adetepe and Yuksel, 1985).

What is the likelihood that Turkey's nuclear plant will escape damage from a major earthquake? Well, more than 17,000 Turkish people died in August 1999 when the northwest of the country was hit by a 7.4 Richter Scale earthquake. So the danger is very real.

Turkish engineers say that the Akkuyu plant would be built a mere 25 km away from an active faultline, according to a Financial Times report. The first thought that comes to mind is that this is certainly not far enough away to prevent damage to - and subsequent radiation leaks from - the Akkuyu plant.

But it is not just Turkey's population which is at risk. Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Egypt, Gaza, the Black Sea region - all of these countries would be affected by an accident in Turkey's future nuclear plants if they are built along its Mediterranean coastline.

In the case of an accident at the future Akkuyu plant, radiation would be transferred via air or sea and will certainly reach and contaminate the island, said Cyprus` Commissioner for the Environment Charalambos Theopemptou in comments to Cyprus News Agency.

Meanwhile, Turkey itself says it is at risk of radiation leaks from a nuclear plant built in Armenia in 1970. According to Turkyie newspaper, the Metsamor plant is like "a bomb" for Turkey and "is the most dangerous nuclear plant in the world." The plant is 16km away from the eastern province of Igdir.

The security of nuclear plants is being reconsidered by Germany and France in the wake of the radiation leak in Fukushima. It would be responsible for Turkey's leadership to think carefully and choose more healthy alternatives for supplying energy to its population.

Turkey's leadership should take a lesson from Japan's disaster; because avoiding a nuclear accident is very feasible with some foresight. Otherwise we all face the very real danger of cancer illnesses from radiation; birth defects, and unimaginable environmental damage to our sea and soil.

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