Health groups call on the leaders of the Western Balkan countries to harmonize national air quality standards with the World Health Organization Global air quality guidelines. Health experts should be actively involved in these decision-making processes to ensure the timely integration of public health measures into environmental policies. Compliance with WHO recommendations brings multiple benefits – reduced incidence of chronic diseases and premature deaths, reduced overall health costs and, most importantly, better health and higher productivity of people.
With the 2019 Belt and Road Forum in China starting today, Chinese overseas investments will be in the spotlight. HEAL(Health and Environment Alliance), WWF-Turkey, TEMA Foundation, Climate Action Network Europe, and Eastern Mediterranean Environmental Protection Platform warn about the environmental and health risk of the planned Hunutlu Coal Power Plant, which is supposed to be built on the protected Sugozu Beach in Iskenderun Bay of Turkey by Chinese Shanghai Electric.
Environmental organisations emphasised that the Sugozu Beach is the habitat of two marine turtle species (Chelonia mydas and Caretta caretta) which are protected by international conventions.
It also has been revealed that Chinese Shanghai Electric will not implement Chinese emission standards which are stricter than Turkey and EU standards. With the burning of at least 2,8 million tons of imported coal in the planned power plant every year, Turkey is essentially importing pollution that will worsen air quality, pose significant threats to agricultural production and the marine ecosystem.
In addition, an increase in the number and types of cancer incidents has been observed in the settlements around the two already operating coal power plants in the Iskenderun Bay.
HEAL’s Turkey consultant Funda Gacal stated: “While there are currently only two coal power plants in operation in the Iskenderun Bay area, thirteen coal power plants are at the permission stage to be built near the cities of Hatay and Adana.
Air pollution from coal power plants can lead to respiratory problems and other health impacts. We are worried about the aggravation of disease and ill-health of the population with new coal, given that there was already a 50% increase in the number of deaths from respiratory diseases from 2009 to 2017 in Adana city”.
HEAL’s Iskenderun Bay report in English