Worker dies after falling from height at coal plant in southern Turkey
KAHRAMANMARAŞ – Doğan News Agency
Ankara has been in talks with China for a $10-12 billion investment deal for the Afşin-Elbistan power plant.A worker died after falling from height at the Afşin-Elbistan coal plant in the southern province of Kahramanmaraş on Oct. 8.
Mehmet Özdemir, 40, was working the night shift in the boiler room of the plant’s second unit when his body was found by work colleagues. The cause of the accident remains unknown.
The incidents is another blow to the government’s record on labor safety as Turkey has recently been under scrutiny due to the labor conditions of workers, particularly after 10 workers died at a lavish construction site for a high rise tower in Istanbul’s center.
The government has been criticized for not ensuring the necessary steps to monitor and implement safety measures by companies, which have regularly cut from safety costs to maximize profits.
The plant is located next to a coalfield providing the lignite used for producing energy, where another worker died last June in a separate incident. That incident took place in the wake of Turkey’s worst mining accident in the western town of Soma in May, that cost the lives to 301 workers.
The plant is one of the few not privatized, but Energy Minister Taner Yıldız revealed earlier this year that Ankara has been in talks with China for a $10-12 billion investment deal for the power plant project.
The region is one of the most important because of its underground resources and holds around 40 percent of the country’s lignite coal.
Officials estimate the area could provide up to 8,000 megawatts of power in south Turkey, if the coal is exploited to its full potential.
But despite interest shown by civil servants to turn the Afşin-Elbistan plant into an energy hub, the site has not been spared by the plague of labor accidents that has dramatically escalated over the last year.