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Estimated 45 thousand people have lost their lives due to premature deaths and 46 thousand others have been hospitalized for vascular and respirotary diseases caused by air pollution generated by the power plants in the districts of Yatağan, Kemerköy and Yeniköy of Turkey's Muğla province in the 34 years since the plants started to operate in the lignite rich area in 1983, according to the findings of a joint research by CAN Europe and local ecologist NGOs.
Representatives of Climate Action Network Europe (CAN Europe), Muğla Ecology Platform (MUÇEP) and Environmental Engineers Chamber (ÇMO) publicized the findings of the research "The Real Price of The Coal: Muğla" in a press briefing in the Yatağan district and urged the officals stop coal based energy production.
According to the research, in Yatağan the intensity of aerial particule matter was found to surpass the World Health Organization (WHO) limits 4 times in 2015 and 3,5 times in 2016. That is, inhabitants of Yatağan in 2015-16 have respired polluted air which was manyfold polluted than the WHO's limits.
Coal production destroys nature
The research exposes that the three power plants further lead to the destruction of nature alongside detrimenting public health in the Muğla province. According to the research findings the three power plants have already emitted 28 thousand kilograms of mercury and will continue emit 1,100 kilograms every year even if the flue gas decontamination facilites uniterruptedly work.
Mercury emission hazardous for children
Half of the mercury particules emitted during coal extraction and energy generation descend over the forests, agricultural lands and the Mediterranean. And thus mercury -a heavy element, toxic for humans and for the flora and fauna- accumulates in water resources, soil, and the seas to finally penetrate plant and animal tissues. Reaching the humans through the food chain the toxic heavy metal, causes serious hazards particulary for children's physical and mental development.
Huge new forest areas are under threat
As the offical data is not shared with the public the exact dimensions of the forests and agricultutal lands destroyed for coal production purposes remain uncertain but it is offical knowledge that the liscensed open coal ore operation areas extend over 440 Km square.
If the ores in the yet unoperated liscensed areas start coal production this would cause the desruction of an additional forest area of 185 Km square, what practically means that mines will replace forest areas five times larger than the Tenedos Island (Bozcaada) in the Aegean, the researchers warn.
"Stop coal production" activists urge
"All fossil based fuels, and primarily coal generate air pollution, a serious global hazard which just like climate change has no borders," says Elif Gündüzyeli of CAN Europe.
"Air pollution, due to atmospheric conditions extends outside of the borders of the countries where the source of contamination resides. In order to prevent the fatal results, as exposed in the rsearch, coal should be excluded from energy generation plans as soon as possible," she concludes.
No offical transparency
"Air pollution in Muğla ranks fourth worst among Turkey's provinces in 2014-15" says Dr. Sebahat Genç from the Torax Association.
"During the research we have found out that the Ministry of Environment and Urbanism has stopped air quality measurements in the last two years", says Mustafa Tuncaelli from Muğla Ecology Platform (MUÇEP).
"Neither the Environment and Urbanism Ministry nor the Energy Ministry release official reports on air pollution generated by the lignit producing areas in Muğla", he adds. "We have no idea about the quality of the air we respire in Yatağan and Milas districts as the offical information is not transparently shared with the public" he concludes.(HA/EK)
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