The controversial and greeted with outrage by locals from the Turkish town of Igneada nuclear power plant (NPP) project will be implemented. Turkey’s intention to build an NPP in a protected area was announced by the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Ali Riza Alaboyun, quoted by the Anatolia news agency and a number of Turkish media. The Minister stated that there are ongoing intense studies in the area of Igneada near Kırklareli, where there are plans to build a third NPP in the country, as well as negotiations and meetings with potential builders. He explained that at the moment there is a signed agreement in the form of memorandum with a company from China and the US Westinghouse that is in the preparation and research stage, but this did not mean that the project is closed to other companies. At this stage, energy experts are meeting with other companies offering deals. The Japanese are again interested, the installations for nuclear technology must be such as we foresee them, added Alaboyun.
Where is Igneada?
The town has only 2,082 inhabitants, but in the summer season the number swells to over 10,000. Local residents make their living by logging, fishing, growing herbs and running small hotels. Igneada is very close to the border with Bulgaria, 8-10 km from the border village of Rezovo and potentially dangerously close to the Strandzha Mountain. It is located in the Thrace-Black Sea region on the territory of Kırklareli and is a three-hour drive from Istanbul. The coastline of the city is 22 km long. But that’s not all – one of a total of four ecosystems of rare longoz forests is located here. Igneada is actually in the “jungle” of Star Mountain (Yildiz Dağ) from which the streams flowing towards the Black Sea feed the lakes Erikli, Mert and Saka. Their anti-erosion effect is undeniable – in the spring, when the water flow increases, the dunes in front of the lakes swell and prevent the risk of high water by retaining it and sending it back and as result, the soil remains flat. The protection of the natural habitats in this so-called jungle is of utmost importance.
What are longoz forests?
In temperate climates, globally they are a rare natural phenomenon; in Bulgaria, however, they are quite common, says Wikipedia. They are found in the mouths of the rivers Kamchia, Ropotamo, Veleka and Batova. The Kamchia longoz was declared a biosphere reserve; it is one of the northernmost in Europe and is located on the migration route of birds migrating between Africa and Europe. The Turkish coast of the Black Sea is a similar priceless treasure that is about to be killed by the renewed NPP project.
Electricity in Turkey is often interrupted
The electric power network of our otherwise economically strong southern neighbor experiences frequent problems; just days ago half Istanbul was without electricity due to planned maintenance and replacement of equipment and cables, as well as due to overconsumption. There are other planned disruptions of the electric system in the metropolis, but they were postponed until after the early parliamentary vote on November 1. Ten days prior to that date, the permits for shutting down electric power will be canceled, the maintenance teams will be on standby, said the Energy Minister. In the southeastern part of the country, teams will work together with the gendarmerie and the police; on Sunday, October 11, a meeting was held on the matter at the presidential residence Aksaray; energy measures were discussed and adopted at the highest level, he added.
Russia and the Turkish energy sector
We have no problems with Russia over energy projects and all should understand that, Minister Alaboyun insisted. He recalled the recent visit of President Erdogan in Tokyo, where the global company Toshiba showed particularly strong interest in the NPP projects. “All energy questions to the President were in the context of Syria because Russia conducts military air strikes there. But journalists falsely interpreted his answers and reported them in such manner. If there is to be critical tension between Russia and Turkey, will find a different contractor for the NPP projects, another source of natural gas, this is what Erdogan said, but journalists heard otherwise. And we have no problem with Russia regarding the energy sector, it is useful to know that,” said the Minister. He added that Russian gas supplies meet 60% of the needs of Turkey. There are two gas connections – 14 billion cubic meters are supplied by the west line and 16 billion cubic meters by Blue Stream; there is no problem with the supply. There are two contentious issues with Russia on natural gas.
The Russian side demanded revision of prices and last December, when Vladimir Putin was on a visit to Ankara, he announced the Turkish Stream project. Clause 9 of the contract for gas supplies gives Turkey the right to ask for price revision, but there are many intricate details, said Minister Alaboyun. If the export price of Gazprom for other countries is lower than that for Turkey, we have the right to ask for revision, he explained. So, Putin initially proposed a 6% reduction, then increased it to 10% and finally to 10.25%. The request for a drop in price is unrelated to Turkish Stream, said the Energy Minister. He also noted the lack of interest on the part of Europe to Turkish Stream, and highlighted the fact that the EU imposed a ban on Bulgaria to join the project and asked how come then Greece is allowed to connect to the pipeline.
Energy ties of Russia and Turkey are “eternal and indestructible”
The Minister of Energy of Turkey stressed that the door remains wide open for Russia and meetings on joint projects will continue with the aim to align the positions of both sides. But the Turkish State will not allow the construction of the key gas pipeline, from which there is no quitting, before transit connections in Greece are built. Moreover, the EU creates too many problems, but even if Russia abandons Turkish Stream, alternatives could be provided, he said.
Russia invested 3 billion US dollars in the first nuclear power plant at Akkuyu and funding was provided in 2017, but only days ago Erdogan’s statement in Tokyo dealt a blow to these plans. The total investment in the mega-project amounts to 22 billion US dollars and the Russian side has already made solid expenses. Several days ago, the Director General of Akkuyu NPP Fuad Akhundov surprisingly announced to journalists that the investments have been made without a license, just based on trust, and all financial risks were for Russia. The registered company-contractor of the project has applied for a construction permit, but the procedure will take 1.5 – 2 years. Meanwhile NPP Sinop appeared on the agenda. It is also on the Black Sea coast like Igneada that is in close proximity to Bulgaria’s Rezovo.
Bivol was first
Bivol was the first to alert, as early as October 25, 2012, about the start of the construction of an NPP in the seaside town of Igneada and the danger of an ecological catastrophe. This was only a few days after the Town Hall there received a notification letter from Ankara for the upcoming construction of an NPP and a TPP. Then local residents approached our editors and urged Bulgarian media and interested organizations to attend the public hearing scheduled for October 31, 2012. Also then, Ms. Gulten Avci, a spokesperson for the local community, expressed surprise at the fact that people in Bulgaria do not know and do not care about the huge problem, even though the future NPP is just kilometers from the border. She informed that the building of infrastructure to serve the new NPP has begun years ago, while people were comforted that a port was being built. People in this unique piece of paradise on the Black Sea rose in protests until Turkish lawmakers submitted a request to the Parliament to stop the energy projects. The public hearing was purposely scheduled for October 31, the International Black Sea Day, and collapsed under the pressure of over 400 people from Igneada. Despite the heavily-armed gendarmerie, the investors were sent on their way.
Now, once again, human health, invaluable ecosystems, alternative tourism, fishing, bio farming, herbalism and few other livelihoods in Igneada are being doomed to destruction. The resurrection of the project to build a nuclear plant on the beach and just kilometers from Strandza means just that. Bulgarian authorities are keeping unforgivably silent.
This post is also available in: Bulgarian