Turkish court belatedly halts dismantling of ‘radioactive’ ship

Turkish court belatedly halts dismantling of ‘radioactive’ ship

Aysel Alp/Erdinç Çelikkan - ANKARA
Turkish court belatedly halts dismantling of ‘radioactive’ ship A court in İzmir has ordered a stay of execution in the controversial dismantling of an oil refining ship that allegedly contained radioactive waste – but only after most of the vessel had already been dismantled.

The İzmir 3rd Administrative Court released its order for a stay of execution on Oct. 16, just days before the dismantling was set to be completed.

In its defense previously sent to the court, the Environment and Urban Planning Ministry said there were no grounds for preventing the dismantling. However, the court unanimously decided that the dismantling was not lawful, adding that the dismantling could lead to “damages that would be difficult to reverse.” 

Permission for dismantling of the Kuito violates a hazardous waste ordinance, the court said.

Baran Bozoğlu, chair of the Center for Environmental Studies at the Chamber of Environment Engineers (ÇMO), a subgroup of the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB), recalled that they had fiercely opposed the dismantling when it first came onto the agenda. 

The ÇMO eventually filed a complaint in February to halt the dismantling. 

“Justice delayed is justice denied,” Bozoğlu told daily Hürriyet on Nov. 12. “We issued warnings even before the ship arrived in our territorial waters. We said, ‘This ship cannot come to Turkey according to our regulation.’ Our warnings were overlooked and then we took the matter to the court. The Environment and Urban Planning Ministry checked the enormous ship in two hours and permitted the dismantling, saying, ‘It is clean of hazardous waste.’ The ship is already dismantled,” he said, voicing regret. 

“Uncertainties still remain about the disposal of the hazardous waste. Where did all that waste go? Did someone do anything about the workers who were exposed to the radiation?” Bozoğlu asked.

“We would like to know if there was an inspection conducted to check the medical state of the personnel that worked on the dismantling. Who will pay the price if they were exposed to radiation? Dismantling could cause environmental damage that would be impossible to reverse. It is uncertain if the hazardous radioactive waste was sent to Angola. [Information] about the disposal of the hazardous waste should be announced to the public,” he said.

The 350-meter-long ship refined crude oil beginning in 1979, and began operating off the coast of Angola in 2000 after a modification in 1999. At peak operation, it refined 100,000 barrels of oil a day and had a storage capacity of 1.4 million barrels.