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Turkisch nuclear tender: a huge question mark!

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Korol Diker, Anti Nuclear Campaigner, Greenpeace Mediterranean

Turkey’s fourth nuclear tender continues, being shaken with scandal news and creating lots of question marks in minds. When the envelopes containing the bids had opened in September 2008 with five ‘thank you but no’ messages and just one bid, all the experts were pretty sure that another Turkish Nuclear Tender was going to be cancelled.

But the TETAS (Turkish Electricity Trading and Contracting Co.) and the Government insisted to continue with the procedures clarified within the Nuclear Tender Regulations. After the first step, second one was the appropriateness to the TAEK (Turkish Atom Energy Authority)’s criteria for the reactor design offered by the consortium. Russian Atomstroyexport offer was to build four VVER-1200’s with a total capacity of 4800 MW.

TAEK’s criteria was already missing some basic elements like information on the content of reactor core (i.e. estimate of maximum amount of radioisotopes, needed to estimate radiological impact of accident), amount of waste that will be produced, waste management system on site, waste management plan (long term), evacuation plans (in case of accident)…etc. but there were two major mistakes in the process; first one was related to the possible security deficiency of the chosen area. The ground license of Akkuyu (the area Government is planning to build the nuclear reactors) was approved 35 years ago and in that period a fault line was discovered underneath the area. Also one of the scientists from the committee that approved the license had admitted that the sea temperature wasn’t appropriate for a nuclear reactor. Secondly in its criteria TAEK had stated that they would only choose proven technologies but VVER-1200 is a prototype reactor (only 2 constructions have started in July 2008 at Russia).

Blinking the facts, TETAS continued to the third phase where the envelope containing the sales price (to TETAS not consumers) was going to be opened which was another unpleasant surprise for the Turkish electricity bureaucracy. The price bid was astronomical 21,6 US cents for 1 kwh; 7 times Turkey’s electricity production average. The consortium wanted to change their bid to 15,4 US cents, but in the nuclear tender regulations it was forbidden to make further negotiations after the envelopes were handed in.

The verbal negotiations on the price bid are taken to court by Greenpeace and 22 other NGO’s; giving the argument that public should know what sides are promising to each other behind closed doors. A month after environmental groups filed the lawsuit a journalist/researcher discovered that TETAS’s tender committee had written a negative report to the Atomstroyexport-Ciner consortium bid but was pressured by the Energy Ministry to change it. The consortium also reportedly offered 10% of the proceeds ‘like a bribe’ to TETAS for a positive answer.

We still don’t know if TETAS’s tender committee took revised bid to consideration in their report (not published yet) or what the decision of the Government is going to be but during Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s visit to Putin, sides continued negotiations on nuclear energy. It’s also being said in the media that Russia is putting the nuclear tender to the table as a precondition upon Turkey’s request to sell Russian natural gas to third countries and other energy issues. The tender probably will be concluded in July after TETAS hands in its report regarding the bid.

Nuclear energy isn’t the answer
When the previous Energy Minister announced that they were going to start a nuclear tender for Akkuyu his major arguments were to decrease energy costs and provide energy security. The bid itself disproved the first argument and when we look at the projections by the Energy Ministry, Turkey will be using twice as much coal and lignite, and the same amount of natural gas. Nuclear energy will only cover 4% of Turkey’s energy need.

In the past, Turkey was harmed quite a bit from the high fixed price purchase guaranteed contracts made for natural gas power generators and politicians seem to be repeating the same mistakes again.

On the other hand, being second in Europe in wind energy resources, lots of sunny days as a Mediterranean country, and huge biomass potential, Turkey has a chance to provide energy security from renewable energy sources in a much quicker and less expensive way.  

Source and Contact:  Korol Diker, Anti Nuclear Campaigner, Greenpeace Mediterranean. İstiklal Caddesi, Kallavi Sok. No:1 Kat:2, Beyoğlu / İstanbul, Turkey
Tel: +212-292 76 19