Possible new partner for Akkuyu nuclear power plant

Possible new partner for Akkuyu nuclear power plant

The Black Sea region has not been able to recover from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster trauma that occurred 30 years ago. I was visiting the Black Sea provinces of Trabzon and Rize on the 30th anniversary of the disaster last week.

I visited Ayder Valley, a natural wonder in Rize that has been defeated by irregular development and which has recently become a hot spot especially by Gulf tourists.  The day we visited Ayder Valley, news came that the father of Kazım Koyuncu, a cult musician from the region, had lost his life to cancer. 

The singer himself, who had created his own style by synthesizing traditional Black Sea music with rock, also died of cancer in 2005 when he was 33. Residents of the Ayder Valley were sad and concerned when they said, “It is the effect of Chernobyl.” 

Even though 30 years have passed, the effect of Chernobyl is frequently referred to in this region.

In a country in which “the effect of Chernobyl,” how much damage it has caused – primarily to the Black Sea area – and its other consequences have not been properly discussed, Russians are building the Akkuyu nuclear power plant in the Mediterranean province of Mersin.

Along the Black Sea, preparations for nuclear power plants in Sinop and İğneada are continuing. The tender for the nuclear power plant in the Black Sea province of Sinop was won by Japan’s Mitsubishi and France’s Areva companies. 

There has been no discussion at all about a problem that occurred last year with the new-generation prototype EPR nuclear reactor that Areva was planning for Sinop. I was in London, by coincidence, when multiple faults in the cooling system’s safety valves were discovered in the EPR nuclear reactor. The matter was discussed for days in the media because the United Kingdom had ordered a nuclear plant from Areva. 

While our nuclear venture is proceeding in a non-transparent, non-discussed fashion, we learned that Russia was going to sell its 49 percent shares in the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant.

Well, who is going to buy that share? According to news reports, the name of Cengiz Holding, which is known to be close to the government, has emerged. Owned by Mehmet Cengiz from Rize, this holding operates in the construction, energy, mining, tourism and infrastructure sectors. Because of the giant third Istanbul airport project, it is closely monitored by the media. It won the hydro-technical tender for the Akkuyu plant one year ago. 

Cengiz Holding faced intense reaction from environmentalists and local people because of its mining project at Cerattepe in Artvin in the Black Sea region, a place that has fantastic nature. When reactions against Cerattepe grew, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu intervened to halt the project. 

Meanwhile, a couple of the cases in Artvin against Cengiz Holding were finalized in favor of the local people. 
On the other hand, the Ilısu Dam, which will flood Hasankeyf and surrounding historic structures dating back 10,000 years ago, is one of the giant projects Cengiz Holding has won in the past 10 years. The Black Sea Highway, the third airport (with partners) and the high-speed Ankara-Istanbul train are among the others. 

Meanwhile, a demand from the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) for an investigation on claims that Cengiz’s tax debts were forgiven was recently rejected by the ruling party.