Environment Ministry, hear us!
Today’s environmental scandal is from İzmir, Menemen.
Villakent was built here in 1994, with a total of 1,000 estates. A water treatment plant was then built in a Free Industrial Zone. Initially, it was further away from the settlement. But for some reason, the plant was moved to its present place in 2009. The locals have been complaining of this - and especially of the stench - ever since.
A Villakent resident, identified only as A.O., claims that due to rising costs, the plant is no longer properly maintained. The waste is being buried in the ground and this also pollutes the air and poisons the Gediz Plain, he claims. He says there is a build-up similar to the Soma mine disaster:
“They say, ‘We were here before and then you came to live here.’ We settled here after them, but villages like Maltepe, Seyrek and Gerenköy have been in the proximity for years. They can’t complain, because it provides a workplace for their youth. My seven-year-old grandson doesn’t want to visit us because ‘it stinks.’ Even dogs cover their noses with their paws when the stench is unbearable. When we complain, the workers from the Environment Ministry come and say, ‘Measures have already been taken,’ and leave. Even if they do not care about us, [the children and asthma patients are having a hard time] the whole plain is being poisoned. We made this barren land habitable with the water from the city … But now we have to live behind closed doors due to pollution.”
In 2012 Villakent residents complained to the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning. Although the plant was fined due to the complaint, no steps were taken to resolve the problem.
It is rumored that sulfur gas is emitted from the waste disposal pool. The gas state of sulfur is highly cancerous and endangers human health. In the free zone where leather production is done, the disposal of waste from leather production pollutes the land and water. The locals who became victims of the pollution filed a complaint to the Menemen Public Court when they could not get any other results.
It is hard to assess the scale of pollution, because the investigation of the case has not yet begun. If the investigation finds the results of pollution potentially dangerous to human and ecological life, the case will be sent to the Karşıyaka Criminal Court.
For now, we can only say that there are first class non-utility industrial complexes, and their waste disposal system is not regulated. Although there is a court case for “purposely polluting the environment,” the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning was not involved.
The municipality of İzmir should show interest in this subject. Both the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning and the Municipality of İzmir were called upon to resolve this problem, but they have shown no effective enterprise. Menemen is a resourceful district where agriculture is important. This problem, beyond creating a bad stench, seems to cause serious pollution problems on land, in the sea and in the air. Maybe it has already.