Village in Turkey’s west struggling against cancer due to uranium mine

Village in Turkey’s west struggling against cancer due to uranium mine

Yücel Sönmez - AYDIN
Village in Turkey’s west struggling against cancer due to uranium mine A village in the Aegean province of Aydın has been struggling with a latent threat of cancer since 1958 due to a nearby uranium mine, locals have said, noting their increasing frustration at the lack of official action.

“Some officials from the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority came here and said that they made some measurements. When we asked them for results, they said they could not make them public result due to the state of emergency,” said Baki Suna, the head of the affected Kisir neighborhood.

Kisir, which has a population of 363, is around 15 kilometers from the center of Aydın’s Söke district and also hosts a school that draws students from 13 surrounding villages.

Locals are growing increasingly worried about the threats of radiation in the neighborhood, as measures have not been taken at the mine to ensure safety.

Following a spate of cancer cancers, locals cut their hair into a buzz cut as a form of protest.

Suna said there were 13 different boreholes 700 meters away from the neighborhood that showed a high degree of radiation.

“When they put the measurement device there, I thought it would explode due to its sound,” he said, noting that he had difficulty in standing in the area around the holes.

One local, Yusuf Çenesiz, said more than 70 locals had died in 15 years due to cancer, while adding that he, too, had fallen ill in recent days.

“Radiation was detected in the coal which I burned in the stove. Why do they keep quiet about the incident? I just want an explanation from an official,” he said.  

A group of scientists including Hayrettin Kılıç, a nuclear physician; Alper Öktem, a radiologist; and Enver Yaser Küçükgil, an environmental engineer, stated the radiation level was 450 times the normal limit.

Meanwhile, Küçükgil, who began suffering nosebleeds after three days taking measurements in the area, said the radiation could spread as fruits and vegetables are grown in the vicinity.

Öktem said the radiation outbreak was an example of irresponsibility.