An industrial zone should not mean death

An industrial zone should not mean death

If the antique city of Kyme had been considered a priority in the 1970s, maybe today I would be talking about the giant antique city in the Aegean province of İzmir’s Aliağa distrcit. 

But, unfortunately, as a result of wrong policies in those years, Aliağa has turned not into a cultural paradise but into an industrial hell. In the 1970s there was only one iron-steel plant there, then the number went up to two and three, then the place was declared a heavy industrial zone. 

A refinery is already there, now the second is being built. A thermic power plant burning petroleum coke will be built inside this refinery. Petroleum coke is not allowed in many countries because it is defined as hazardous waste, but we will burn it near İzmir. 

There are ship dismantling facilities, ports, fertilizer factories, imported junk yards, iron mills and iron and steel plants - six of them. Clinker, scale and flue dust coming out of factories falls onto the Ilıpınar forests in nearby Foça. Tears would come to your eyes if you could see those waste peaks.

Today, even though a court case is ongoing, there is a coal thermic power plant that has been recklessly functioning for two years. Many years ago the local people of Aliağa were pushed into poverty, obliging them to work for the factories. They are aware of the hell they are living in but they keep quiet while trying to make a living. 

In the nearby Horozgediği village, there is a cancer case or a death related to cancer in every household. 

Scientific reports show that İzmir in general is under serious threat. It is known that the pollution in the skies of İzmir, even in the summer months, is coming from Aliağa. 

Bahadır Doğutürk from the Foça Environment and Culture Platform (FOÇEP) has witnessed a development here. “An industrial zone should not mean a death zone. There will of course be industry in the development process but we should do exactly like what developed countries have done. In the iron and steel factory here smoke comes out, not only from its chimneys, but from all over it. There cannot be such careless production. Obviously this region has been discarded.” 

Since May 4, in 13 countries on five continents, demonstrations have been being held against fossil fuels. In Turkey the focus of demonstrations was Aliağa. 

It was no coincidence that more than 70 NGOs and several local administrations have chosen Aliağa to declare their wish and express their ideas, saying: “A Turkey and a world freed from fossil fuels are possible.” 
The aim is to draw attention to this place before it is too late, before this place will be famous for mass deaths. 

A parliamentary research commission should be formed as soon as possible, no other polluting facility should be allowed to be built in Aliağa and the existing facilities should be rehabilitated. 

Turkey should handle this business correctly. 

On one hand, signing the Paris Climate Agreement to end the fossil fuel era together with 175 countries while on the other increasing financial incentives and encouraging coal burning thermic power plants just don’t go together.  

This, in the lightest of terms, is not sincere.