Dismantling of asbestos-filled factory halted in Ankara

Dismantling of asbestos-filled factory halted in Ankara

Dismantling of asbestos-filled factory halted in Ankara

DHA photo

The dismantling process for a decades-old factory in central Ankara containing 350 tons of asbestos has been halted by a court order. 

The start of dismantling work for the coal gas factory in Ankara’s Maltepe district had prompted a major debate, with chambers applying to the court in order for it to stop, citing health concerns. 

The Ankara 7th Administrative Court on March 1 ordered a stop to the dismantling process, which it said could “cause harm that is impossible or hard to repair.” The ruling came after an application from the Ankara bureau of the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects’ (TMMOB) and the Chamber of Chemical Engineers (KMO). 

Both professional chambers on Feb. 28 said a quarantine area must immediately be declared around the factory. 

The TMMOB released air-based asbestos surface measurements taken close to the factory and said amphibole, which is the most dangerous asbestos type, was determined to be at a dangerously high level in the area.
The chamber also called on the Education Ministry to close all schools around the factory until the dismantling work is complete. 

Tezcan Karakuş Candan, the head of the TMMOB’s Ankara branch, welcomed the court’s decision as “pleasing for the public’s benefit.” 

“Now the area should be put under quarantine,” Candan added.

The issue was also on the agenda in the General Assembly at parliament, with main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Ankara lawmaker Murat Emir speaking at the rostrum wearing a gas mask. 

Ankara Mayor Gökçek has vowed that the municipality will appeal against the decision, adding that “if the appeal isn’t accepted, the architects can come and dismantle it however they want.”

“We have to abide by the court decision. But there is an absurd attitude here: If there is asbestos and it is spreading as they claim, then the court, the TMMOB, and the CHP are responsible for any grievances that stem from the halt to the dismantling,” Gökçek told daily Hürriyet, adding that no pipe containing asbestos had been taken from there up to now. 

“We lifted debris but we didn’t lift asbestos. They are creating hell by saying ‘There is asbestos and it’s spreading.’ If there is a danger then it should be addressed. We have made our tender accordingly and got our permissions from all institutions. We will prevent the section containing asbestos from being taken outside. We will appeal against the court,” he said.

Gökçek also claimed that the CHP and the TMMOB simply wanted to “cause panic between people.”