Turkey moves forward with nuclear energy plans

Thousands of people march to protest against the construction of nuclear energy plants and hydroelectric centrals over rivers, near Ankara, Turkey.

Adriene Hill: In Japan today, government officials said residents evacuated from homes near the Fukushima nuclear power plant may not be able to return for a long time, perhaps decades according to reports. The disaster has some countries re-thinking nuclear power -- but not Turkey. It wants to build three new reactors. The government says nuclear power is needed to drive Turkey's fast-growing economy.

But as Marketplace's Alisa Roth reports, not everyone is convinced.


Alisa Roth: Germany, Switzerland, and Italy are all phasing out nuclear power. But, just days after the Fukushima disaster, the Turkish government promised it's going ahead with plans for nuclear energy. And since then, it's been pushing to speed up the construction of the three proposed plants.

Not all Turks are on board though. And many have been taking to the streets even here in Istabul, which is far from the nearest proposed site.

Cansin Ilgaz is an environmnental activist with Greenpeace.

Cansin Ilgaz: I don't want a life where I have to risk everything. I don't want that life for my eventual kids.

Right now, Turkey uses all kinds of energy - oil, natural gas, coal, wind. Vural Altin is a nuclear physicist in Istabul, and he agrees that nuclear power can be dangerous. But so is, say, mining coal, or being dependent on others for energy.

Vural Altin: In matters of energy, there's no single answer. Energy security means distributing the risks between the front baskets.

He thinks nuclear should be in one of those baskets. Neither the Turkish energy department nor the Atomic Regulatory Commission would talk to me. But the government has said repeatedly that Turkey needs nuclear energy to keep powering its economy, which is the fastest growing in the world right now. A lot of Turkey's $70 billion trade deficit comes from importing energy.

Meanwhile, protesters like Cansin Ilgaz says they'll keep fighting until Turkey's government gives up. But for its part, the government says construction on the first plant will start any day now, at a site on the Mediterranean coast which is just miles from an active fault line.

In Istanbul, I'm Alisa Roth for Marketplace.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...