Landfill for 3rd airport to ‘deprive Istanbul of water’

Landfill for 3rd airport to ‘deprive Istanbul of water’

Erdinç Çelikkan ANKARA
Landfill for 3rd airport to ‘deprive Istanbul of water’

The third airport plot is a wetland patched with old mines and quarries near Istanbul’s northern forests. The construction site is recently visited by ministers. AA photo

The Turkish Chamber of Engineers and Architects (TMMOB) has warned the government over the planned construction of Istanbul’s third airport, stressing that the massive amount of landfill required for the site is likely to deprive the metropolis of water.

Noting that 2.5 billion square meters of landfill will be used in the project, TMMOB Environmental Engineers’ Chamber chair Baran Bozoğlu said “this is an amount enough to fill the Bosphorus.”

The plot is a wetland patched with old mines and quarries near Istanbul’s northern forests. According to Bozoğlu, the fill required to eliminate pits and depressions in the area before the actual construction begins present environmental problems.

“The landfill will stop the rainwater seeping underground. Istanbul will be deprived of water,” Bozoğlu told daily Hürriyet, claiming that it would be “worse than having boars in the city.”

The construction of roads for the third bridge over the Bosphorus, another mega project for Istanbul, had already led to the felling of thousands of trees in the northern forests, recently forcing wild animals, like boars, to flee toward the city.

Votes from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) ensured the passage of a proposal regarding occupational chambers in a parliamentary session in June, in a move that was interpreted by most as payback for the TMMOB for its environmentalist opposition to gigantic development projects.

Bozoğlu also stressed that Transport Minister Lütfi Elvan recently described three quarters of the area as a “swamp that would be filled with mebra drain,” referring to a rubber- based material used for landfills.

“If they are going to drain the swamp with rubber, why didn’t they write it in the ÇED report?” Bozoğlu asked.

In July Turkey’s Constitutional Court halted a legal amendment that exempted companies from preparing an environmental impact assessment report (ÇED) on dozens of gigantic projects that have drawn controversy for their potential damage to nature.

‘New ÇED report needed’

While many in the government circles accuse the ÇED process of delaying Turkey’s mega construction projects, environmentalists warn that the exemptions recently pushed by the AKP led to the destruction of green areas throughout the country.

“The fact that they didn’t write this information in the ÇED report shows that they didn’t prepare it properly,” Bozoğlu said, noting that the government was initially planning to fill in the land by using waste coming from the Channel Istanbul project.

“Now it is not even clear if the Channel Istanbul will be built or not,” he said, claiming that the newly adopted approach will mean “more drillings and deeper landfills that will affect the underground and sea ecosystems even more.”

“This is an area which is very close to the city. Fresh studies are needed, because these are new developments. The project is becoming something different than the one described in the ÇED report. A new report is a necessity,” Bozoğlu said.