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Ioannis Cassoulides, Foreign Minister of Cyprus
"How can one take chances of this kind?"
 real 28k

Ankara correspondent Chris Morris
"Authorities insist the site is safe"
 real 28k

Friday, 3 March, 2000, 11:10 GMT
Cyprus to fight Turkish N-plant
Turkey has a vocal anti-nuclear lobby
Turkey has a vocal anti-nuclear lobby
Cyprus has said it will fight Turkey's decision, announced on Thursday, to go ahead with construction of a nuclear power station on the Mediterranean coast.

Foreign Minister Ioannis Cassoulides told the BBC that the proposed plant at Akkuyu would pose an environmental hazard, because the site was in an earthquake zone.

It's an area of frequent earthquakes, and a very dangerous place to build a nuclear reactor

Ioannis Cassoulides, Foreign Minister of Cyprus
"There is little we can do, but this will not stop us bringing the issue [up] where it is necessary to be brought - and we will not be the only ones," he said.

"It's an area of frequent earthquakes, and a very dangerous place to build a nuclear reactor."

Turkey said on Thursday that the winning tender for the project would be announced in about 10 days.

A spokesman insisted that the plant was necessary for Turkey to meet its energy needs.

Officials say a satellite survey has shown the region to be one of the least earthquake prone areas in Turkey.

The professor of earthquake engineering at Imperial College in London, Amir Elnashai, told the BBC that Akkuyu was one of the safest places in Turkey to build a nuclear power plant, but there would always be a risk of earthquake damage.

Public opposition to the plan within Turkey has intensified since an earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale hit the nearby region of Adana in 1998, killing more than 140 people.

On Tuesday police arrested 30 people as activists staged a lie-down protest in Istanbul, chanting "No to nuclear power plants".

Three bids

The Turkish Government has postponed the announcement of the winning tender numerous times since bids were collected in 1997.

Three groups have entered proposals: one led by Westinghouse of the United States, a second by Canada's AECL, and a third by the Franco-German consortium Nuclear Power International.

The state-owned electricity producer, TEAS, will make the final decision on which bid gets the contract.

The idea of constructing a nuclear facility at Akkuyu was first proposed more than 30 years ago.

Energy demand

Turkey's demand for energy is rising rapidly, and a drop in gas supplies from Russia caused widespread power cuts in Ankara in January.

The government has signed long-term contracts for gas imports from Iran, Russia and Turkmenistan, but all depend on new pipelines that may never be built.

Two devastating earthquakes ripped through northwest Turkey last year, killing more than 18,000 people, and igniting a refinery blaze which threatened to spread out of control.

Critics argue that building the plant on the coast at Akkuyu could also hurt tourism, an important source of income in the region.
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22 Jan 00 |  Europe
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