Turkey Ecological Problems

Official name: Türkiye Cumhuriyeti

Area: 783,562 km²

Residents: 82,017,514 (July 2020 est. – CIA World Factbook)

Growth of population: 0.45% (2020 est. – CIA World Factbook)

Seat of government: Ankara

Official language: Turkish

Regional and minority languages: Kurmanci, Arabic, Zazaki and many more

Dam project in the southeast: GAP (Güney Anadolu Projesi)

Independence Day: October 29, 1923

Head of state: Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Head of government: Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Political system: Presidential system

Democracy Status Index (BTI): Rank 77 (of 137) (2020)

Corruption Index / CPI: Rank 91 (of 180) (2019)

The GAP project, started in the 1980’s, was intended to develop the waters of the Euphrates and Tigris for economic use (irrigation and energy generation). A total of 22 dams and 19 hydropower plants were planned. The Ataturk reservoir (already completed) is 1.5 times the size of Lake Constance.

Parallel development programs focused on building and building agricultural and urban infrastructure, forestry and education. They should enable the development of the area and thus initiate a defusing of the Kurdish question and stop the increasing rural exodus from east to west.

Results are hardly measurable so far, not least because the initiatives have been severely restricted due to the high national debt. But the GAP project is also extremely controversial from an ecological point of view.

Opponents argue that tens of thousands of people have to leave their habitat because large areas are flooded. Hasankeyf, a place that has been inhabited for thousands of years and at the same time a World Heritage Site, would also fall victim to the water masses if another dam, the Ilisu Dam, were built.

There are also serious doubts about the economic outcomes, such as continued job creation.

International protests by environmental and human rights organizations and the violation of the requirements for environmental and cultural property protection ultimately led to the withdrawal of European consortia and investors (2009), who had long launched the financing of the project with export risk insurance. In July 2010, the Turkish government announced that the project would continue with new funds.

The neighbors in the south, especially Syria, view the GAP project with concern. They fear that the water supply in their country would be severely restricted by dams and intensive water use on the Turkish side.

Now a new stage of the project is to be reached: the flooding of the Munzur National Park in Dersim, one of the largest national parks in Turkey with more than 200 endemic plants.

The following article shows the importance of Hasankeyf as a World Heritage Site and its flooding in the course of the Staudaum project. At the same time, the government’s prospects become clear (5min22).

Turkey Ecological Problems

Further dam projects on the Black Sea

Another large dam project is currently being implemented on the Black Sea coast. In the Loc valley, some of the 1,500 dams and 40 other hydropower plants that the government intends to implement over the next 25 years are to be built. According to the government, this is a meaningful way to meet the country’s growing energy needs. Environmental associations and local residents accompany these projects with suspicion and protests.

Construction of nuclear power plants

The planned construction of nuclear power plants in Akkuyu and Sinop is always discussed in connection with its ecological consequences.

The power plant in Akkuyu is being implemented in cooperation with the Russian Rosatom Group. A plant with 4 reactors and an output of 4800 megawatts is planned. The project stalled for a long time because the necessary environmental impact assessment was rejected by the Turkish Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning due to deficiencies in form and content. The first contracts and preparatory measures were planned for 2014. Construction began in April 2015.

The French company Areva and the Japanese company Mitusbishi Heavy Industries are involved in Sinop. Both projects are criticized not least because of the high number of earthquakes in the region. Financing is also always in question.

According to aristmarketing, Turkey already has a TRIGA research reactor with the designation ITU-TRR and an output of 250 KW, which was put into operation on March 11, 1979. Two other research reactors are out of operation.