Turkish-Georgian border closes after radiation alarm
ARDAHANThe Türközü border gate at the Turkish-Georgian border was closed for nearly three hours after a radiation alarm in the region.
Machines at the Georgian customs gate detected radiation and it was later understood that it was coming from the Turkish side, prompting the Georgian authorities to warn officials in the eastern province of Ardahan, Doğan News Agency reported on May 9.
Radiation oscillation took place on May 4, five meters away from the border gate, while welding efforts were underway for the construction of the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP). After the devices at the border detected radiation, a team arrived on the Georgian side of the border from Tbilisi and ordered for the gate to be closed for 2.5 hours.
Upon warnings from the Georgian authorities, officials from the Ardahan Provincial Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) arrived at the scene of the incident and notified officials in Ankara. A team of three from the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority (TAEK) then visited the site to carry out investigations and conducted radiation measurement in the pipes where wielding efforts were made.
Security measures were taken around the area, including the hanging of warning signs and cordoning off of the area. The team that arrived from Ankara did not release a statement after their inspections.
The mayor of the Posof district, meanwhile, said residents in the area are worried about suspected radiation oscillation.
“The TANAP’s entrance point to Turkey is Posof and efforts are underway for the last year-and-a-half.
Radiation was detected by the devices at the customs gate. We followed the incident as locals,” said Mayor Cahit Ulgar from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Ulgar added that officials from the TAEK had assured them that there was no threat to human health.
“Officials from the TAEK concluded that there is no threat to human health after the measurements and inspections they made. They also told us that they will present their report to related offices later on. It’s pleasing that there is no problem regarding health. This is a process that started with the alarms of devices in Georgian customs. We thank the teams from AFAD and the TAEK, who have announced that there are no problems after technical analysis,” he said.
AFAD officials commented on the incident, saying the radiation stemmed from a device that x-rays the pipes in the TANAP project.
“There is a device that x-rays the pipes by sending rays of welds. They probably used it excessively. A problem surfaced due to a user error or a malfunction in the device. When the figures were a little excessive, the devices set off an alarm because they are sensitive. The Georgians took precautions on suspicion of a radioactive attack and we asked experts from the TAEK to carry out inspections. There is no serious leak,” AFAD officials told the Doğan News Agency.