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Sinop Nuclear Plant: Turkey seeks an EIA without a company for a reference reactor via DiaNuke.org

Pinar Demircan

The final EIA process has been initiated for Turkey’s proposed second nuclear power plant project. However, the EIA which was started to evaluate the impact of the nuclear power plant to its surroundings neither has a valid agreement nor a company to be commissioned for the construction of reactors!

Normally The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) aims to determine the impacts of projects on the environment . Starting from the planning stage, all processes including construction, operation and termination of the activity are covered. However, the EIA reports, which have theoretically undergone systematic changes for the last five years and have in practice been under the control of political decision mechanisms, being prepared as formalities in Turkey. The statements containing subjective comments and generalizations in the reports are the most important indication that there is not even a concern that the applicant may not be approved. As a matter of fact, the objections of the civil society are not taken into consideration in the processes despite the right to public participation and following-up. Furthermore, the final EIA reports of up to three thousand pages are approved by the political authorities within 10 days.

The processes described above have already been experienced in the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) at all levels and now the intention is to do the same for Sinop in a similar way. However, although Sinop Nuclear Power Plant project and its impact on its immediate surroundings has been opened for evaluation, there is yet neither a valid agreement nor a company commissioned for the construction of reactors! The Japanese Government, who was committed to realize the Sinop nuclear power plant project withdrew from the International Agreement (Intergovernmental Agreement) at the beginning of 2018 after submitting the EIA application file. Thus ending the Mitsubishi-Areva consortium commissioned in 2013 for the construction of reactors also ended. However, this development did not prevent the EIA preparation file from turning into a final EIA application. Moreover the participation of the public that has to be done according to the EIA regulations was held by preventing the participation of the opposing public in February of the same year as you can see in our previous article. Then in 2019 the non-governmental organizations from Sinop were prevented from attending to the Review and Evaluation Commission (IAC) which was held in Ankara for Sinop NPP.

We have repeatedly underlined that the end of the International Agreement with the Government of Japan did not mean the NPP project was abandoned in Sinop.  The company which performed the EIA application on 30 March 2020 was Assystem ENVY Energy and Environmental Investment on behalf of EUAS International ICC Sinop Nuclear Power Plant Jersey Islands Turkey Central Branch. In fact it was decided that EUAS ICC would never have more than %49 share per the intergovernmental agreement with Japan and when Mitsubishi was involved to the project. The most interesting part of the final EIA report is that the Flamanville 3 type reactor was declared as a “reference reactor” to evaluate the impact of the project on the environment while there is no technology investor company replacing Japanese Mitsubishi. In other words, when the EIA preparation file was submitted 2 years ago, it was prepared for the untested Atmea 1 type 4 reactor (4560 MW in total) which would be produced by Japanese Mitsubishi and French Areva consortium. But now it seems that the French nuclear industry Areva who has an aim to equip the world with its third generation pressurized water reactor (EPR-European Pressurized Reactor) seems to be interested in establishment of the Sinop Nuclear Power Plant project alone despite the fact that there is no intergovernmental agreement signed to perform in Turkey!

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1 million trees cut down for a final repository

In Sinop, the first movement that paved the way for the environmental massacre for this project was the transfer of 10 square kilometers of land from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to the Ministry of Energy. In the area of ​​1415 stadiums, nearly 1 million trees were cut without showing any sign of remorse. However, in order to suppress the rising reaction of the public, the EIA report sought to prove that, as the statements of the political representatives said, the claims of the opponents of the NPP did not reflect the true characteristic of the “rejuvenation” they made in doing this. Because the most crucial point of the final EIA application made for Sinop NPP to the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization is related to nuclear waste issues, in the report it is explicitly mentioned that the 10 square kilometer area transferred to the Ministry of Energy for the purpose of establishing a nuclear facility would be used as a temporary waste storage area for 60 years lifetime of the power plant and the final disposal facility would be established by Turkey under the responsibility of Turkish Atomic Energy Institution(TAEK)* to have the waste ultimately disposed of at this disposal facility. Such an explanation indicates that the government of Turkey also easily attempts to build a “final repository” which will be at least three times more costly and has never been successfully done in the world since 1942, when the first reactor was established. Today the first such facility is still under construction in Finland since 2004, namely The Onkalo Repository.

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