Canal Istanbul environmental report very transparent, minister says
The process for preparing the environmental impact report on Turkey’s Kanal Istanbul, a planned canal to connect the Black Sea and Marmara Sea northwest of Istanbul, is one of the most transparent in the country, said Environment and Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum.
“The environmental impact assessment report for Kanal Istanbul and its process have been one of the most well-attended, transparent processes,” Kurum told a press conference in the capital Ankara on Dec. 26.
Kanal Istanbul is one of Turkey’s most strategic megaprojects, which is meant to reduce potential risks posed by ships carrying dangerous goods through the Bosphorus Strait.
The 45-kilometer canal, which is projected to be built on the European side of Istanbul Province, is planned to have a capacity of 160 vessel transits a day, according to the government.
Kurum noted that all the meetings regarding the report were held openly and transparently with all public institutions.
He said as a result of studies, it could be seen that calculations and evaluations of the project are based on a “sufficient level of data and information,” and the environmental impact report has taken the “necessary measures to prevent its negative impacts on environment.”
He said the utmost care was shown to the environment.
“We approached the air, water, forests, soil, green areas, lakes, sea and ecological balance of Istanbul with a strategy to protect the environment and nature, and we have carried out all details with this sensitivity.”
Kurum added that during the process of preparing the report, municipalities, academics, environmental specialists, institutions and NGOs were also present at the meetings.
“The environmental impact assessment report is 1,595 pages, with an addendum of 16,000 pages,” he said, adding that 200 scientists supported the report and offered suggestions.
The report has now been made public, with Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu from main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) calling on city residents to issue objections to it. İmamoğlu held a press conference on Dec. 25 to list his objections to the plan, after Kurum said the municipality should cooperate with the government on the issue.
Kurum highlighted ship traffic in the Bosphorus and said on average, 150 vessels transit it daily.
“Expansion of vessel sizes as a result of technological developments and an increase in the number of transits of vessels carrying dangerous materials pose threats to Istanbul, our world heritage,” the minister said.
He also noted that as the technology improves, even though the number of vessels will decrease, their heaviness will increase, and this will create a greater risk of accidents in the Bosphorus as the maneuverability of the ships decreases.
Touching on claims that Kanal Istanbul would trigger a large-scale earthquake in the city, Kurum said: “Claiming that a 21-meter-deep canal would trigger fault lines at depths of 20 and 7 kilometers is indeed a discourse far from being scientific.”
He added that in the process of preparing the environmental impact assessment, reports were prepared not only on earthquakes but also on all risks, including tsunamis, disasters and floods.
Kurum also refuted claims that 1.2 million people would migrate to Istanbul because of the project and said only 500,000 people will be allowed to settle in the region.