Turkey: Environmental Issues – part one:

Published March 6th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Introduction: 

Turkey's economic emergence has brought with it fears of increased environmental degradation. As Turkey's economy experienced high levels of growth in the mid-1990s, the country's boom in industrial production resulted in higher levels of pollution and greater risks to the country's environment. 

 

With domestic energy consumption on the rise, Turkey has been forced to import more oil and gas, and the resultant increase in oil tanker traffic in the Black Sea and Bosporus Straits has increased environmental threats there. 

 

With Turkey now a formal candidate for membership in the European Union, Turkey's environmental record will come under heavy scrutiny. In 1983, Turkey promulgated the country's overarching "Environmental Law," and a national Ministry of Environment was created in 1991.  

 

Turkey is building an extensive network of hydroelectric energy sources in the southeast part of the country, and cleaner-burning natural gas is moving to replace coal in power generation.  

 

The importance of strong environmental protection measures, as well as the fragility of Turkey's environment, was driven home recently by catastrophe that struck the Tisza and Danube rivers in southeast Europe.  

 

After a reservoir wall at a gold mine in Romania collapsed, cyanide-tainted water was dumped into the Tisza River, and the toxic spill killed thousands of fish in Hungary as it flowed downstream into the Danube.  

 

Although the spill was supposed to be diluted by the time it reached the Black Sea, and it was not expected to cause any damage there or in the Marmara Sea, Turkey took no chances, taking water samples in the Bosporus Straits to measure any effects from the toxic spill. 

 

Marine Pollution: 

Although Turkey escaped the full brunt of the cyanide pollution from the Romanian mine accident, it has not been so fortunate with pollution from oil spills that have affected the shores of the Anatolian peninsula. Increased shipping traffic through the narrow Bosporus Straits has heightened fears of a major accident that could have serious environmental consequences and endanger the health of the 12 million residents of Istanbul that live on either side of the Straits.  

 

The Straits--a 19-mile channel with 12 abrupt, angular windings--have witnessed an increase in shipping traffic since the end of the Cold War to the point that over 45,000 vessels per year (one every 12 minutes) now pass through them. This increased congestion has led to a growing number of accidents; between 1988 and 1992, there were 155 collisions in the Straits. 

 

With the high volume of oil being shipped through the Bosporus, oil tanker accidents can release large quantities of oil into the marine environment. This danger was underscored in March 1994, when the Greek Cypriot tanker Nassia collided with another ship, killing 30 seamen and spilling 20,000 tons of oil into the Straits. 

 

The resulting oil slick turned the waters of the Bosporus into a raging inferno for five days, but because the accident occurred in the Straits a few miles north of the city, a potential urban disaster was averted. 

 

In the aftermath of the 1994 Nassia disaster, Turkey passed regulations requiring ships carrying hazardous materials to report to the Turkish environmental protection ministry. However, Turkey's power to regulate commercial shipping through the Straits is limited by the 1936 Treaty of Montreux that delineates the Straits as an international waterway. 

 

Although subsequent international agreements have given Turkey the right to regulate the right of passage through the Straits to ensure a steady and safe flow of traffic, due to pressure from some Black Sea border countries, Turkey has not been stringently enforcing the shipping laws passed in 1994. 

 

Thus, only a small number of vessels passing through the Straits report their cargo.As the number of ships through the Straits grows, the risk of accidents increases, and traffic will likely increase as the six countries surrounding the Black Sea develop economically.  

 

With tonnage on the rise as well, the threat of collision is not the only danger: on December 29, 1999, the Volgoneft-248, a 25-year old Russian tanker, ran aground and split in two in close proximity to the southwest shores of Istanbul.  

 

More than 800 tons of the 4,300 tons of fuel-oil on board spilled into the Marmara Sea, covering the coast of Marmara with fuel-oil and affecting about 5 square miles of the sea.  

 

In addition, while major spills can bring about immediate environmental consequences, the presence of large oil- and gas-carrying ships in the Straits causes other problems, such as the day to day release of contaminated water as the ships ballast their holds.  

 

Pollution in the Straits contributed to a decline in fishing levels to 1/60th their former levels. In the Black Sea, meanwhile, overfishing and pollution have left the ecosystem nearly defunct. Cleanup costs are estimated as high as $15 billion--far beyond the reach of the six countries bordering the sea.  

 

Although the 1996 Black Sea Strategic Action Plan envisions the establishment of a Black Sea Environmental Fund, financed by fees and levies on activities which use the Black Sea environment, more international financial support is needed. 

 

To reduce the strain on the marine environment caused by ship traffic, Turkey has backed alternative means to transport oil and gas from Central Asia. Turkey has championed the Caspian oil pipeline route from Baku to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, as well as the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline from Turkmenistan across Azerbaijan and Georgia to Turkey.  

 

Although Turkey supported the creation of a pipeline route ending at the Georgian Black Sea port of Supsa for the "early oil" from the Caspian Sea, Turkey continues to support the Ceyhan terminal in the long-run to reduce the amount of oil shipped to Black Sea ports (which then must pass through the Bosporus to world markets).  

 

However, a recent Kazakh-Russian deal to ship more oil to the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiisk guarantees that more oil will continue to flow through the Straits. 

 

Air Pollution: 

Smog is a particularly bad problem in many Turkish cities, especially Istanbul. Rising energy consumption and the increase in car ownership have increased air pollution, and as Turkey continues to develop its economy, the problem likely will be exacerbated unless preventive actions are undertaken. 

 

Recognizing these issues, the Turkish federal government and municipalities have taken several measures to reduce pollution from energy sources. In order to meet EU environmental standards, Turkey is requiring flue gas desulfurization (FGD) units on all newly commissioned coal power plants and is retrofitting FGD onto older units.  

 

In addition, the planned "Blue Stream" natural gas pipeline from Russia should provide the necessary supplies for Turkey to rely more heavily on cleaner-burning gas rather than coal. 

 

However, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has criticized Turkey's efforts to reduce air pollution, saying that current measures do not go far enough. In its annual report on member countries, the IEA stated that Turkey needs to maintain and possibly increase investments in public transport, especially in urban areas, as well as improve the implementation of existing regulations on air quality.  

 

Additionally, the report said that Turkey needs further efforts to improve the quality of oil products and additional investments in the environmental control system, as well as further promote fuel switching from high-sulfur lignite to natural gas. 

March 2000 

Source:United States Energy Information Administration.. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turkey: Environmental Issues – part one: 

 

Introduction: 

Turkey's economic emergence has brought with it fears of increased environmental degradation. As Turkey's economy experienced high levels of growth in the mid-1990s, the country's boom in industrial production resulted in higher levels of pollution and greater risks to the country's environment.  

With domestic energy consumption on the rise, Turkey has been forced to import more oil and gas, and the resultant increase in oil tanker traffic in the Black Sea and Bosporus Straits has increased environmental threats there. 

With Turkey now a formal candidate for membership in the European Union, Turkey's environmental record will come under heavy scrutiny. In 1983, Turkey promulgated the country's overarching "Environmental Law," and a national Ministry of Environment was created in 1991. Turkey is building an extensive network of hydroelectric energy sources in the southeast part of the country, and cleaner-burning natural gas is moving to replace coal in power generation.  

The importance of strong environmental protection measures, as well as the fragility of Turkey's environment, was driven home recently by catastrophe that struck the Tisza and Danube rivers in southeast Europe. After a reservoir wall at a gold mine in Romania collapsed, cyanide-tainted water was dumped into the Tisza River, and the toxic spill killed thousands of fish in Hungary as it flowed downstream into the Danube.  

Although the spill was supposed to be diluted by the time it reached the Black Sea, and it was not expected to cause any damage there or in the Marmara Sea, Turkey took no chances, taking water samples in the Bosporus Straits to measure any effects from the toxic spill. 

Marine Pollution: 

Although Turkey escaped the full brunt of the cyanide pollution from the Romanian mine accident, it has not been so fortunate with pollution from oil spills that have affected the shores of the Anatolian peninsula. Increased shipping traffic through the narrow Bosporus Straits has heightened fears of a major accident that could have serious environmental consequences and endanger the health of the 12 million residents of Istanbul that live on either side of the Straits.  

The Straits--a 19-mile channel with 12 abrupt, angular windings--have witnessed an increase in shipping traffic since the end of the Cold War to the point that over 45,000 vessels per year (one every 12 minutes) now pass through them. This increased congestion has led to a growing number of accidents; between 1988 and 1992, there were 155 collisions in the Straits. 

With the high volume of oil being shipped through the Bosporus, oil tanker accidents can release large quantities of oil into the marine environment. This danger was underscored in March 1994, when the Greek Cypriot tanker Nassia collided with another ship, killing 30 seamen and spilling 20,000 tons of oil into the Straits.  

The resulting oil slick turned the waters of the Bosporus into a raging inferno for five days, but because the accident occurred in the Straits a few miles north of the city, a potential urban disaster was averted. 

In the aftermath of the 1994 Nassia disaster, Turkey passed regulations requiring ships carrying hazardous materials to report to the Turkish environmental protection ministry. However, Turkey's power to regulate commercial shipping through the Straits is limited by the 1936 Treaty of Montreux that delineates the Straits as an international waterway. 

Although subsequent international agreements have given Turkey the right to regulate the right of passage through the Straits to ensure a steady and safe flow of traffic, due to pressure from some Black Sea border countries, Turkey has not been stringently enforcing the shipping laws passed in 1994. Thus, only a small number of vessels passing through the Straits report their cargo. 

As the number of ships through the Straits grows, the risk of accidents increases, and traffic will likely increase as the six countries surrounding the Black Sea develop economically. With tonnage on the rise as well, the threat of collision is not the only danger: on December 29, 1999, the Volgoneft-248, a 25-year old Russian tanker, ran aground and split in two in close proximity to the southwest shores of Istanbul.  

More than 800 tons of the 4,300 tons of fuel-oil on board spilled into the Marmara Sea, covering the coast of Marmara with fuel-oil and affecting about 5 square miles of the sea.  

In addition, while major spills can bring about immediate environmental consequences, the presence of large oil- and gas-carrying ships in the Straits causes other problems, such as the day to day release of contaminated water as the ships ballast their holds.  

Pollution in the Straits contributed to a decline in fishing levels to 1/60th their former levels. In the Black Sea, meanwhile, overfishing and pollution have left the ecosystem nearly defunct. Cleanup costs are estimated as high as $15 billion--far beyond the reach of the six countries bordering the sea. Although the 1996 Black Sea Strategic Action Plan envisions the establishment of a Black Sea Environmental Fund, financed by fees and levies on activities which use the Black Sea environment, more international financial support is needed. 

To reduce the strain on the marine environment caused by ship traffic, Turkey has backed alternative means to transport oil and gas from Central Asia. Turkey has championed the Caspian oil pipeline route from Baku to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, as well as the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline from Turkmenistan across Azerbaijan and Georgia to Turkey.  

Although Turkey supported the creation of a pipeline route ending at the Georgian Black Sea port of Supsa for the "early oil" from the Caspian Sea, Turkey continues to support the Ceyhan terminal in the long-run to reduce the amount of oil shipped to Black Sea ports (which then must pass through the Bosporus to world markets). However, a recent Kazakh-Russian deal to ship more oil to the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiisk guarantees that more oil will continue to flow through the Straits. 

Air Pollution: 

Smog is a particularly bad problem in many Turkish cities, especially Istanbul. Rising energy consumption and the increase in car ownership have increased air pollution, and as Turkey continues to develop its economy, the problem likely will be exacerbated unless preventive actions are undertaken. 

Recognizing these issues, the Turkish federal government and municipalities have taken several measures to reduce pollution from energy sources. In order to meet EU environmental standards, Turkey is requiring flue gas desulfurization (FGD) units on all newly commissioned coal power plants and is retrofitting FGD onto older units.  

In addition, the planned "Blue Stream" natural gas pipeline from Russia should provide the necessary supplies for Turkey to rely more heavily on cleaner-burning gas rather than coal. 

However, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has criticized Turkey's efforts to reduce air pollution, saying that current measures do not go far enough. In its annual report on member countries, the IEA stated that Turkey needs to maintain and possibly increase investments in public transport, especially in urban areas, as well as improve the implementation of existing regulations on air quality. Additionally, the report said that Turkey needs further efforts to improve the quality of oil products and additional investments in the environmental control system, as well as further promote fuel switching from high-sulfur lignite to natural gas. 

March 2000 

Source:United States Energy Information Administration.. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)

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