861) Eastern Mayors Urge Government To Take Action Against Armenian Nuclear Plant

A nuclear power plant just across Turkey's border with Armenia is making eastern Anatolian mayors nervous, and they are calling urgently on the government to do something about it. The 30-year-old Medzamor nuclear power plant poses a threat to the eastern provinces and particularly Kars and Igdir near the border due to frequent failures, say local administrators and residents seeking government action. . .
"Diplomatic initiatives haven't started to get the plant closed yet," said Kars Mayor Naif Alibeyoglu, accusing the government of turning a blind eye to the issue. Due to numerous disputes Turkey and Armenia do not have formal diplomatic ties, but sometimes communicate through third parties or at international meetings. The Medzamor nuclear power plant, situated 50 kilometers south of Armenia's capital Yerevan, first began operations in 1976. Two reactors of the plant went out of service following the 1988 Gumru earthquake. The plant went out of service for a while but was reactivated in 1995.

Speaking to the Anatolia news agency yesterday, Alibeyoglu said that necessary measures should be taken immediately before it's too late. Underlining that the 1986 Chernobyl disaster affected an area of 1,000 kilometers, Alibeyoglu said that raising international awareness is very important for the resolution of the problem, adding that they had collected 50,000 signatures so far in a petition campaign. Alibeyoglu said that the petition was sent to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), but nothing came of it except a team that visited from Europe to inspect the situation.

"The problem is of closer interest to us than the Armenians," said the mayor. "The officials of the two countries should discuss this issue in line with regional cooperation." Igdir Mayor Nurettin Aras said that Medzamor is 25 kilometers from Igdir, adding that the power plant is situated over a major fault line. Maintaining that they follow the activities of the plant with great concern, Aras said the cooling of the plant is done manually as the plant uses old technology and its functions aren't adapted to modern technology. Underlining that nuclear leakage is unavoidable in a possible earthquake in the region, Aras pointed to a rise in the number of cancer patients in the region.

24 July 2006
The New Anatolian


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