Under the Shadow of the Power Plant

Photos & Text: Tuncay Dersinlioğlu

Afsin – Elbistan thermal power plant has been operating since 1983. For the past 23 years, it’s been operating without a treatment facility. Now, the plant which provides 7% of Turkey’s total electric generation is operated without a flue gas treatment filter due to the high costs. The power plant, resembles with giant stoves with flue when you look from a distance, has been murderous for years and polluting the water, air and earth. River Ceyhan’s water is used for cooling process.
200.000 people in the region are in danger directly. In 2004, 4362 people died of cancer and lung diseases. Approximately 15 million tons of solid, liquid and gas wastes are emitted per year. These wastes carry radioactive particles. Specialists state that 2.5 times more radioactive substances than Chernobyl are emitted. Weather pollution is 10 times above of the acceptable level. Despite considered harmless, water vapor released from Plant B’s flues affect the climate negatively due to the greenhouse effect it creates (…) Having a chat with people while walking around the town is enough to understand the magnitude of the threat for the human health. One of the two people I speak suffers from respiratory system diseases or has relatives that suffer from it. No matter whom you speak, the issue is the same; lung cancer, throat cancer, goiter. Mountains of ash are visible everywhere. Ashes, brought by the wind, mostly affect the children. The power plant keeps on growing. Lifetime of a unit is 25 years. Unit C is under construction and unit D is under project process. So, what should be the solution for this problem? I don’t say that a hundred million dollar-investment or coal reserve must be removed. Primarily, flue gas treatment filter of plant A must be repaired. Thus, direct exposures can be decreased a bit. It’s obvious that this giant structure can’t be removed. However, Cogulhan can move. Those who were able to go have already left their homes. Those who are helpless are waiting to die slowly. The region has been confiscated. The circle around Cogulhan is getting narrower. Afsin, Turkey / 2008