Turkey: Ministry cancels coal-fired plant project in Maraş

Environmental groups have been opposing to the planned new coal-fired plants in, Maraş one of the provinces with the highest air pollution in Turkey. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process of one of the six coal-fired power plants planned to be built in Elbistan, Maraş was terminated by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization and the project was permanently canceled. Greenpeace previously started a campaign titled “Let Kahramanmaraş breath,” demanding the cancellation of the projects. There are currently two active coal-fired power plants in the southeastern province.

Onur Akgül, the climate and energy project manager at Greenpeace Mediterranean, said that the decision was pleasing but not enough. “The five planned plants will create a cumulative effect and make the risk much bigger,” he said and added: “… The planned power plants should also be closed.”

İbrahim Yalçın, a member of the Platform for the Protection of Life and Nature, a group working against power plants that threaten people’s health in the region, said that the ministry canceled the project after their efforts. “With the objections and struggle of the people of Elbistan, the project has been canceled at the end of six years since the day it was announced,” he said.

“The people of the region have preserved their water, thousands of acres of agricultural land, nature, future and health. As a platform, we informed all relevant institutions, made the public’s voice heard and expressed our objections at all meetings of the ministry. “As a result, the ministry canceled the project. But this isn’t enough. This good development should be improved with the termination of the current plant power plants as well. “The air quality measurements have revealed that the Afşin A and B plants have made the region unlivable by causing pollution limit values to be exceeded many times more. “The public doesn’t want these plants. We call on all authorities to see this reality.”

Coal-fired power plants in Maraş
Maraş is one of the three cities that have the highest rate of deaths related to air pollution, according to the Right to Clean Air Platform. According to a Greenpeace study, coal-fired power plants in Afşin-Elbistan have caused 17,000 premature deaths. The Afşin A plant was shut down at the start of 2020 because it hadn’t installed a chimney filter required by regulations. It was reopened six months later without sulfur filtration. The Afşin B plant, which is operated by Electricity Production Inc. (EÜAŞ).