17 Ağustos 2011 Çarşamba

Storage facility opposed by locals in NW Turkish province

Locals strongly object the construction of a storage facility for bulk liquids, planned for Yalova, a province located in one of the most active fault lines
‘No to pollution of our seas,’ reads a placard during a demonstration by the Yalova Agriculture Chamber in this Sunday photo.

‘No to pollution of our seas,’ reads a placard during a demonstration by the Yalova Agriculture Chamber in this Sunday photo.
Dutch firm Royal Vopak, a leading provider of storage facilities for bulk liquids, is preparing for a new investment in northwestern Turkey, but the project might bring the region to the edge of an environmental disaster in the future, a local businessmen told the Hürriyet Daily News on Thursday.

“This investment brings a serious danger to the Marmara region,” including Istanbul and its population estimated around 15 million, said Şaban Beşli, Yalova Chamber of Commerce, noting that the nearly 30,000 square meters of land earmarked for the storage facilities of the company sits on some of Turkey’s most active fault lines. Speaking to the Daily News over the phone on Thursday, he said the Turkish government reached an agreement with the company without the consent of local authorities.

“It is as dangerous as having an atomic bomb in this part of the country,” said Beşli. According to him, there will be around 15 tanks with more than 7,700 cubic meters of capacity for each containing 39 different types of chemicals and dangerous gases. “Any leakage from the storage tanks would end the sea life and agriculture in the region,” he added.

He recalled the 7.6 magnitude earthquake that hit the northwestern province of İzmit in 1999, causing the deaths of 17,000 people and leaving approximately half a million homeless. “This is not imaginary, we have lived through it before,” said the head of the chamber. In 1999, AKSA Acyclic facility in Yalova leaked nearly 6,900 tons of chemicals into the region when the facility was damaged in the earthquake. “The Dutch facility might be even riskier,” he said.

“We are currently investigating the possibilities of the investment in Yalova,” said Rob Bouderstijn, manager of investor relations at Royal Vopak, noting that the decision is not for certain, speaking to the Daily News over the phone on Wednesday. Declining to comment on the details of the investment plan, Bouderstijn said the company would reconsider the investment if the investigation bared results stating a high risk due to the fault lines.

“The sea life will be under the threat of poisonous chemicals,” said Erdal Topalak, chairman of the Fishermen’s Cooperative of Yalova, noting that local businessmen and farmers are against the construction of such storage facilities containing dangerous materials. “If it was not a shaky part of the country, we might understand Vopak,” he said, adding that the company rather reserved to inform the locals living in the region.
“We all know that it is a strong company in all means, but so are the locals,” Topalak said, adding that many protests are expected from the locals living in the region to challenge the construction of the storage units. k HDN

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