The actions of a professor who publicly shared his findings about dangerous levels of carcinogenic substances in the environment due to pollution in Kocaeli were ethically sound, the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) has concluded.
“It does not constitute a crime for Prof. Onur Hamzaoğlu to have shared such findings with those concerned, which is defined not only as [officials] but also as the people. [His actions] are what must be done by a scientist,” read the report prepared by three professors for the TTB’s Executive Board.
The mayor of the northwestern and heavily industrialized province of Kocaeli, as well as the district mayor of Dilovası, where the carcinogenic substances were detected, filed a formal complaint against Hamzaoğlu on charges of “spreading panic and fear among the people” after he disclosed his findings to the public in January. The ethics board of Kocaeli University, where Hamzaoğlu is employed also issued him an administrative warning.
Hamzaoğlu appealed to the TTB for an inquiry to be launched to determine whether his actions were in line with professional ethical standards. Prof. İoanna Kuçuradi, Prof. Betül Çotuksöken and Prof. Harun Tepe were then tasked by the TTB’s Executive Board to prepare a report, which was presented Nov. 18.
Hamzaoğlu’s research revealed the presence of carcinogenic heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, mercury and lead in mothers’ milk and babies’ excrement, as well as in the air in Dilovası that were much higher than internationally accepted standards. Hamzaoğlu first published his findings in 2005 and even presented his suggestions before Parliament before disclosing them to the media.
Meanwhile, the TTB also compiled all existing studies about the situation in Dilovası into a single book and called for the district to be declared a “medical disaster zone.”
“There are five separate industrial parks under construction and one active industrial park in the region, as well as a smaller one,” read the TTB’s report. Some 10 percent of the 500 largest factories in Turkey are located in this area, according to the TTB.
Compiled from daily Hürriyet and Radikal stories by the Daily News staff in Istanbul.