Continued from page 1

Under terms of the agreement signed in 2010, decommissioning will be funded by a cent-and-a-half levy on each kilowatt hour sold over the plant’s 60-year productive life span.

Critics such as Erhan Kula, an economics professor of Bahcesehir University in Istanbul, say that relies on vague assumptions on what the long-term costs will be.

“The most important thing [regarding] nuclear power is the decommissioning and storage of highly toxic waste,” Mr. Kula said. “There’s just a couple of sentences in the environmental assessment report, which is mind-boggling.”

Mr. Kula said the 4,800 megawatts produced by the four reactors would provide only about 5 percent of Turkey’s energy needs and that the current grid is losing more than 14 percent to theft.

“If we stop that, we don’t need nuclear power,” Mr. Kula said.

However, A. Beril Tugrul, director of the Energy Institute at Istanbul Technical University, said Turkey’s energy needs are rising, and nuclear power, with all its risks, is an essential alternative to burning fossil fuels.

“I think many of the problems [with decommissioning] can be solved — but maybe not,” Ms. Tugrul said. “But it’s not just nuclear power that has problems. All plants have huge problems with carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases.”

Even EDAM’s study, which found that the agreement could work in Turkey’s favor, cautions that Ankara has failed to lay the groundwork for proper oversight of atomic energy.

Turkey is rushing toward nuclear power,” Mr. Ulgen said. “Turkey does not currently have the regulatory capacity to minimize the risks inherent in nuclear power.”

Officials at the Turkish Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources did not respond to requests for comment.

Turks fear nuclear power

Turkish officials have been eyeing the Akkuyu site since the 1970s, but it has been only in recent years that the project has taken shape.

Nuclear power in Turkey has generated little debate, though the most exhaustive study conducted shows broad public skepticism.

Memories of the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown in Ukraine, which irradiated parts of Turkey’s Black Sea region, may help explain why 62.5 percent of the more than 2,400 people surveyed said they are opposed to nuclear power, making it the second-least popular choice after coal.

“If they listened to what people say, they shouldn’t go nuclear. Turks are very scared of nuclear power,” Mr. Kula said.

Story Continues →