Incentives and pollution exemptions given to the privatised coal power plants can be extended until 2021, threatening health
The Turkish government has already vowed to increase its coal-fired power generation and yet another bid that will be discussed in the Turkish Parliament next week is one of the greatest threat to the environment and the public health. In 2013, various environmental exemptions were awarded to the privatised coal power plants as a subsidy, with a deadline of 2019. During this period, most of the plants operators did not invest in filters or flue gas systems as they were not obligated to follow environmental regulations.
However, next week, another bid on the extension of these exemptions until the end of 2021 will be discussed in the Turkish Parliament. If the proposal passes, in return at least ten coal power plants in Turkey will continue to operate without even having a desulphurization system or modernised dust filters. On the other hand, the annual PM10 levels in the cities which host these plants, are already above the WHO limits and it is known some plants do not run their filtration system they invested in.
Turkish environmental and health bodies that work together under the Turkish Right Clean Air Platform* voiced their concern about this motion. In a joint press release, they warned that if the proposal passes the Parliament, it will continue to cause harm to public health and environment until 2021. They underlined that these plants should be retired as soon as possible instead of being subsidies. Moreover, the Platform asked the Turkish Parliament not to accept this bid and allow these plants to operate without following up with the environmental regulations.
About Right to Clean Air Platform
Right to Clean Air Platform, consists of 17 professional organizations and NGOs, working on air pollution and health impacts in Turkey since 2015. The aim of the Platform is to advocate for the right to live in an environment with clean air and to protect the public health from the air pollution, especially resulting from the existing and the planned coal fired power plants in Turkey. Platform Constituents are; Turkish Medical Association (TTB), HEAL-Health and Environment Alliance, Turkish Thoracic Society (TTD), Turkish Society of Public Health Specialists (HASUDER), CAN Europe, 350.org., Greenpeace Mediterranean, Turkish Neurological Society, Turkish Respiratory Society, Turkish Society of Occupational Health Specialists (İMUD), WWF Turkey, TEMA Foundation (The Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion, for Reforestation and the Protection of Natural Habitats), Greenpeace Law Association, Green Thought Association, Physicians for Environment Association, General Practitioner Association of Turkey, Yuva Association. Website: https://www.temizhavahakki.com/english/
List of the coal power plants that has not invested in desulphurization system and their cities*
1- Çanakkale / Çan 18 Mart Coal Power Plant
2- Şırnak / Silopi Coal Power Plant
3- Kahramanmaraş / Afşin Elbistan A Coal Power Plant
4- Karabük / Kardemir Coal Power Plant
5- Kütahya / Tunçbilek Coal Power Plant
6- Kütahya / Seyitömer Coal Power Plant
7- Manisa / Soma A Coal Power Plant
8- Manisa / Soma B Coal Power Plant
9- Sivas / Kangal Coal Power Plant
10- Zonguldak / Çatalağzı Coal Power Plant
*Even some other coal power plants completed their environmental investments, it is known that may these investments are not in used.
Quotes from Environment and Health Actors
Turkish Medical Association, Assoc. Prof. Dr Gamze Varol: “World Health Organization identified air pollution as one of the greatest public health risks. The increase in pollution levels shortens the life-span and increases the incidence of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and stroke. The linkage between air pollution and infant mortality, premature deaths, growth and developmental delay, learning disorders, memory and behaviour problems are being cleared than before. As the most basic human right, protection of human health cannot be postponed for another two years, who will pay the heavy price of the people suffering from air pollution?”
HEAL – Health and Environment Alliance, Funda Gacal: “EU member countries are getting prepared for the stricter air pollutant limits on the coal power plants in 2021 when Turkey discuss allowing environmental exemptions to these plants for more than two years, until the end of 2021. We demand the withdrawal of the law proposal and call the Turkish Government to adopt environmental regulations according to the developments in the EU environmental law to protect public health and the environment.”