Uncertainty over the safety of war-wracked Ukraine’s nuclear power plants has reignited concerns over a Russian-owned nuclear power station now being built in a quake-prone area on Turkey’s southern coast, Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot activists said Wednesday.
About 200 activists representing two dozen organizations from both sides of ethnically divided Cyprus converged inside the United Nations controlled buffer zone that cuts across the capital Nicosia. They sought to voice their unease over ongoing construction of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, which is only 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the island nation’s northern coast.
Organizers said the annual event to commemorate the Chernobyl nuclear disaster that occurred 36 years ago has taken on an added urgency in light of safety concerns regarding Ukraine’s nuclear plants, such as Europe’s largest nuclear plant in Zaporizhzhia, which has been seized by Russia.
“The war in Ukraine has demonstrated that nuclear power plants are a source of great uncertainty for public safety,” said George Perdikis, former leader of the Cyprus Greens Party.
Activists have long contended that Akkuyu lies near a seismic fault line and that a potentially powerful quake could cause a radioactive leak affecting Cyprus. Cyprus’ Geological Survey Department said Wednesday that a 4.7-magnitude quake near the island’s southwestern town of Paphos late Tuesday was felt as far away as Lebanon and Israel.
Christina Nicolaou, environmental affairs chief for the leftist AKEL party, said an accident at Turkey’s nuclear plant as a result of either a natural disaster or “a deliberate act” would have huge repercussions for the region.
Turkish officials said the Akkuyu plant would cover about 10% of the country’s domestic energy needs. The first of four reactors is scheduled to become operational next year. Russia’s Rosatom State Corporation holds a 99.2% stake in the project, whose total cost is estimated at 20 billion U.S. dollars, according to the plant’s website.