Chemical mixed in sewage system in Istanbul’s industrial Tuzla stirs controversy
The possible health impacts from the chemical that mixed in the sewage system and hospitalized hundreds of locals on Dec. 25 in Istanbul’s industrial Tuzla district on the Anatolian side has stirred controversy regarding the cause and the penalty for this hazard.
“No one has the right to disturb citizens’ peace and threaten their health or pollute our seas and waters so that they can profit,” Istanbul Governor Vasip Şahin said in a televised statement on Dec. 28.
“All our units are looking into the situation. They will do whatever needs to be done. Once the situation becomes apparent, the responsible persons will be subjected to criminal procedures and will be fined,” the governor added.
The Environment and Urbanization Ministry has declared the upper limit for this crime is 2,124,000 Turkish Liras ($561,479) and will increase to 2,431,000 liras ($642,635) after the new year. However, the Environmental Engineers Chamber has requested the government to raise the penalty.
“We want the government to increase the fine tenfold since it is within their power,” chamber head Baran Bozoğlu said on Dec. 28.
“These kinds of atrocities could lead to mass deaths,” the chamber stated.
In midst of the poisoning and environmental disturbance, Environment and Urbanization Minister Mehmet Özhaseki on Dec. 27 told the press there was “nothing to be afraid of” in Tuzla, following what is suspected to be a chemical dumping into the sewage system that led to the hospitalization of 100 people on Dec. 25.
“We are investigating where this chemical could reach and what the implications might be,” the minister added.
Daily Habertürk looked into the matter and published a report on Dec. 28, showing the route of the freshet that officials stated was mixed with tetra chlor and trichloroethylene—both widely used in metal and textile industries.
“A large portion of the six-kilometer-long route runs parallel to the Umur Stream and reaches the purification plant,” the report read.
“It is speculated that the pungent smell had traveled through this route and had spread through the factory chimneys,” it added.
Law enforcement authorities said sewage trucks illegally dumped the chemical and poisonous waste into waste water collector pipes—which is normally used only for domestic waste—seriously threatening locals living in four neighborhoods nearby.
While sewage truck owners claimed the spot was shown to them by the Istanbul Water and Sewerage Administration (İSKİ), İSKİ said they had not placed a collector there and that the statement is false.
Four trucks identified to have caused the mixing of the chemicals were seized on Dec. 26. The investigation is ongoing as residents still suffer from the pungent smell.
“It began after 8 p.m. There was a smell but we could not make out what it was. It bothered us so much that my entire family left the house,” a local told Doğan News Agency on Dec. 25.
Aerial footage that had been taken above the area had shown the freshet in which the chemical flowing through the Marmara Sea is observed to have turned black, running through the greenhouses area in the district.