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Stop the Akkuyu nuclear plant in Turkey!

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(May 8, 1998) If you are from the United States of America, Germany, France, Canada, Japan, Republic of Korea, or the United Kingdom... your country could be contributing to the development of Turkey's first nuclear power plant.

(491.4876) Nuclear Awareness Project - Turkey has a relatively low per capita electricity consumption. This is an opportunity rather than a problem. Turkey has an opportunity to avoid the mistake of investing in nuclear power that has been made in many countries. A truly sustainable energy future in Turkey will be based on efficiency and renewable energy, not nuclear power.
But in December 1996, the Turkish state electrical utility TEAS invited bids from foreign reactor vendors for the construction of a 100% financed nuclear power station to be built at Akkuyu Bay on Turkey's Mediterranean coast. As early as July or August 1998, TEAS is expected to pick a winning nuclear vendor to construct the plant.

There are three international consortia bidding:

  1. Nuclear Power International (NPI), a partnership of Siemens (Germany) and Framatome (France).
  2. Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), with partners including Kvaerner-John Brown (UK), Korea Electric Power Corporation and Hanjung (South Korea), and Hitachi (Japan).
  3. Westinghouse (US) and Mitsubishi (Japan).

The vendors' main bids are as follows:

  • NPI is bidding a 1980s vintage Siemens 1400-MW Convoy PWR.
  • AECL is bidding to supply two 700-MW CANDU reactors (Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors) in a two-unit station.
  • Westinghouse/Mitsubishi is bidding a single 1200-MW PWR.

It is vitally important to mount an international campaign of opposition to stop this most recent attempt to expand the international nuclear industry. It is particularly important that groups and individuals in the vendor countries take action. Here are some of the reasons to oppose the Akkuyu nuclear power plant which you may use in your protest.

1. Economic risks for the vendor country
Turkey is demanding 100% financing of the Akkuyu plant, even including the local costs, which would be to its direct economic benefit. It is not clear if Turkey would provide a 'hard' sovereign guarantee of the debt. In addition, there are crucial questions about: the absence of risk insurance on the loans; whether the vendor would be required to provide a performance guarantee; who would make up the shortfall in case of cost overruns; and the degree to which vendors will have to transfer their manufacturing and marketing rights.

2. Nuclear weapons proliferation
The dark underside of nuclear power has always been its potential for nuclear weapons proliferation, either through the production of plutonium--an inevitable byproduct of reactor operation--or through the transfer of sensitive nuclear information, technology and materials. Since the early 1980s there have been reports that Turkey has aided Pakistan in its acquisition of nuclear weapons. Turkey's attempt to build the Argentinean CAREM-25 reactor was likely aimed at plutonium production for nuclear weapons.

3. Turkish politics
Turkey does not provide a secure environment for a risky, multibillion dollar, long-term nuclear investment. There have been four military coups in recent years in Turkey: in 1960, 1971, 1980, and 1997. On June 18, 1997, the democratically elected prime minister, Necmettin Erbakan, was forced to resign by the military, and Mesut Yilmaz, leader of the conservative Motherland Party, was named prime minister. The intense political instability of Turkey in 1996-97 has also destabilized the country's economy. Annual inflation in Turkey is over 80%. The annual deficit is about $15 billion, and the country's debt is about $100 billion.

4. Seismic risk
The risk of earthquake damage is a serious consideration for the Akkuyu nuclear site. One analyst has stated, "There is a probability of 50% that an earthquake of magnitude 7 Richter or more will occur within 100 kms of Akkuyu Bay within the next 40 years."

5. Akkuyu puts the monk seal at risk
The Mediterranean monk seal (monachus monachus) is one of the 10 most endangered species in the world, with only about 200 seals left in existence. There is a seal colony on islands in the mouth of Akkuyu Bay. The water intake and sea traffic for the plant would pose a real danger to the seals.

6. Safety and environmental impacts
All reactor designs share certain basic safety and environmental risks, namely, the risk of catastrophic accidents; the problem of routine emission of radioactive pollutants; as well as the production of radioactive waste and the ultimate problem of reactor decommissioning.

7. Nuclear power is a failed technology
Throughout the Western world, nuclear power has been put on hold. It is widely recognized that nuclear power is the highest cost option for electricity generation, and carries significant environmental, safety, and economic risks not shared by other forms of generation. Nuclear performance is often poor, resulting in even higher costs. Nuclear power plants typically have very long lead time for design, approval, and construction, in addition to high capital cost. Disguised costs include radioactive waste management and reactor decommissioning.

For more detailed background on this issue, please visit the web sites of the Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout and the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility: Although it has a focus on the CANDU reactor and the AECL bid, there is also a lot of information on general issues relating to Turkey.

Sources: Dave Martin at Nuclear Awareness Project, P.O. Box 104, Uxbridge, Ontario, Canada L9P 1M6. Tel/Fax: +1-905-852-0571
Contacts: Antinuclear Platform Istanbul, Tel/fax: +90-212-248 0205

What can you do?

1) Write to your respective heads of state and national energy minister to oppose the export of nuclear reactors to Turkey. They can both receive the same letter with different addresses (see below for a short summary of good reasons for opposition).
2) Write to the Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz and Energy Minister Cumhur Ersumer of Turkey opposing this deal. Again they can both receive the same letter with different addresses.

Addresses and fax numbers are:

Sayin Mesut Yilmaz
Ankara, Turkey
Fax: +90-312-417 0476

Sayin Cumhur Ersumer
Enerji ve Tabii Kaynaklar Bakani
Enerji ve Tabii Kaynaklar Bakanligi
Devlet Konya Yolu Uzeri
Bestepi, Ankara, Turkey
Fax: +90-312-212 2973