Ministry plans to permit discharge of mining waste into sea

Ministry plans to permit discharge of mining waste into sea

Erdinç Çelikkan ANKARA
Ministry plans to permit discharge of mining waste into sea

The Environment Ministy is planning to allow pouring mining wastes into the sea, paving way for potential contamination in natural resources of the country. DHA Photo

The Turkish Environment Ministry is preparing to allow the deposit of mining waste into the sea if storing it on land is not appropriate, in another move that infuriates critics of the government’s development policies.

According to the Mining Wastes Regulation’s draft, pouring mining waste into the sea will be permitted on the condition of “detailed monitoring.”

Mining waste will be collected after being classified into three different types of waste: hazardous, nonhazardous and inter waste, according to the draft.

The regulation also requires detailed geological, hydrogeological, geochemical and engineering geology examinations of the area where the waste destruction field will be established. The features of the rocks that the destruction plant will be founded on will be also determined.

The ministry foresees granting permission to build waste disposal plants on the sea only if a detailed monitoring program is presented. The ministry also requires that the layers of sea that are devoid of oxygen, where no traces of life are seen, should be considered and it should be proven that the temperature of the water will not change.

The disposal facilities where the mining wastes will be stored have to be covered with a leak-proof layer to prevent leaked water from being mixed with sea water. If this layer is not found in natural form, it should be created artificially.

Activists have regularly criticized the government and the Environment Ministry for approving environment impact assessment reports (ÇED) that are insufficient and often distorted.

A recent parliamentary report also added its voice to those who have demanded better assessments of hydroelectric plants (HES) within a given area, so as to attain a clearer picture of the environmental damage caused by the plants.

The clay-type minerals to be used for impermeability will need to be searched at mining licensing areas at first.

Leaked water collection, drainage and purification systems will also be built, in order to prevent potential risks that could arise from the mixture of leaked and underground water to maintain long-term sensitivity of the facility.

In 2012, municipalities, villages, manufacturing industry establishments, thermal power plants, industrial zones and mining firms discharged 12 billion cubic meters of wastewater into the environment, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK).

The country produced some 4.1 million tons of dangerous waste over the year, adding to the 982 million tons of non-hazardous waste. Some 947 tons of the total waste came from mines, with some 3.2 million tons being hazardous.

Most of the discharged wastewater, some 77.1 percent, was poured into the sea, while 18.6 percent was mixed with rivers.