- GOP hopes taking shutdown off the table with budget deal will pay dividends
- Chinese Death Star: The moon cited as the perfect launch pad for ballistic missiles
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- We are not amused: Queen’s protection officers warned to keep ‘sticky fingers’ off the royal cashews
- Unleash the crossbows: Gov. Scott Walker creates new hunting season
- Bubonic plague kills 20 in Madagascar
- G-20 diplomats fell for hacker attack promising nude photos of former French first lady Carla Bruni
- Minnesota guardsman charged with stealing private soldier data for fake IDs
- Florida appeals court rules universities can’t regulate guns
- Vladimir Putin defends Russian conservative values
New energy between Cold War foes Turkey, Russia
“These are countries that have been able to compartmentalize their differences,” said former Turkish diplomat Sinan Ulgen, chairman of the Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies in Istanbul (EDAM).
“It has been a relationship driven by mutual economic gain.”
One of the world’s fastest-growing economies, Turkey has significant energy needs. The majority Muslim nation’s energy demands will double by 2023, according to one projection.
But Turkey cannot do it alone and has sought international partners to build, own and operate a nuclear plant.
Only Russia has come forward and is constructing the Akkuyu nuclear power plant on the Mediterranean coast near the southern city of Mersin. The plant’s design calls for four 1,200-megawatt reactors scheduled to go on line in 2019.
The Russian firm has agreed to build, own and operate the plant for its entire productive life, with spent fuel sent to Russia for reprocessing. The deal represents an unprecedented level of cooperation between the former adversaries.
“We are the nearest neighbors with Turkey, and we should trust each other,” said Rauf Kasumov, a spokesman for Akkuyu NGS, the Russian company that will own and operate the plant. “Logically, Turkey needs that. It’s one of the fastest-growing economies of the world, and they need it badly.”
Questions linger about what would become of the core waste leftover from the plant, a perennial controversy whenever a reactor is to be built.
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.
“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.”
“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.”
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.
The survey was conducted in 2007, and the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in Japan last year has further sullied nuclear power’s reputation, he said.
Organized opposition has been limited. The site is relatively undeveloped, but road access along the craggy cliffs that tower above the Mediterranean has been upgraded.
This summer, a small tent encampment was erected in protest to raise awareness as grass-roots groups lodge legal challenges.
Opposition groups — backed by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) — argue that the site is crisscrossed by active earthquake fault lines. Court challenges have been lodged against the site plan, but the government has not stopped construction.
“We are going to both challenge the government and draw the public’s attention through direct action,” said Sabahat Aslan, one of the protest leaders at the encampment.
Meanwhile, another site on the Black Sea coast has been identified for a second plant, but the Turkish government has been unable to find an international partner willing to build it.
“I really doubt that any other country would be in the position of financing the [build-own-operate] model. It’s pretty expensive,” he said.diplomat Sinan Ulgen, chairman of the Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies in Istanbul (EDAM).
The Russian commitment to the project appears unshakable publicly, but the Turkish press has raised questions about Moscow’s willingness to spend vast sums as cost projections rise.
The project’s future depends largely on the good will of the Russian government and its faith in Turkey as a strategic energy partner.
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- House pushes through two-year Ryan-Murray budget deal
- Comma on!: Twitter erupts over Obama-Castro 'marriage'
- Biden guarantees victory on immigration reform
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- CARSON: Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?
- VEGAS RULES: Harry Reid pushed feds to change ruling for casino's big-money foreigners
- All-out war breaks out in GOP over budget pact
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Born in 1930 in rural Missouri, Charles Vandegriffe, Sr., brings his time and place to the Communities.
Columns from Voices around the World talking about the events, people, politics and social issues that concern us wherever, and whoever, we are.
Chef Mary Moran discusses the food we eat, where it comes from and what it does for us.
An informed and often humorous take on the world of advertising, public relations and social media. 100% Pure. Not from concentrate.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow