Kahraman: Iliç mine disaster will have serious consequences for at least a century

Tuğba Kahraman from Polen Ekoloji, said that the ecocide in Iliç covers a very large area, and added that “cyanide and heavy chemicals will mix with the Euphrates as the result of a disaster that will have consequences for at least a century."

Tuğba Kahraman from Polen Ekoloji answered ANF's questions about the before and after of the disaster in the Iliç mine. Nine workers who were trapped under the rubble of the Çöpler Gold Mine in Iliç in the province of Erzincan could not be reached, and the search efforts stopped.

Various expert reports have been published regarding the mining accident in Iliç. From the first day, it was claimed that waste from Iliç did not reach the river and precautions were taken. First of all, if we put all these explanations aside, is it possible to calculate the estimated destruction toll of the mining disaster?

It is very difficult to predict the toll of an ecocide of this magnitude. The destruction covers a very large area. There is a destruction that will affect the Euphrates basin and the Tigris and all of Mesopotamia. Cyanide and heavy chemicals will mix with the Euphrates. The consequences of the disaster will last at least 100 years... Considering that two million cubic meters of this toxic soil were scattered here and there, mixing with the groundwater through rainfall, and that the chemical mass weighed approximately 27 million tons, it is very difficult to imagine the size and destruction of the massacre. People, animals, soil, our waters will die. Unfortunately, the responsible companies and their collaborators will continue their way with ostensible fines and trials.

The air analysis carried out by the Ankara Branch of the Chamber of City Planners using photographs and satellite images revealed that it is almost impossible for the chemicals not to mix with the waters of the Euphrates River. It was also stated that Keban, Karakaya and Atatürk Dam were at risk. What danger does this pose?

As environmental engineers and other experts in the field point out, cyanide and other chemicals remain suspended in the air when mixed with the air through evaporation. They can be directly in contact with living creatures in that environment through inhalation, and if inhaled, they will cause public health and environmental health problems. If the chemicals affect the soil, animals and people will be affected through the plants growing there. This will affect the entire endemic structure, the health of living beings and human health through the food chain. COPD and cancer-like diseases will gradually emerge in subsequent generations. In the case of leakage into groundwater and water leakage, the width of the basin is very bad in terms of the scale of the disaster.

It is clear that the responsibility lies primarily with the Ministry of Environment, as permission was given to expand capacity despite the previous infiltration. Now new mining areas are being opened. What can we expect?

One of Turkey's largest gold mines is not going to give up so easily on the benefits it gets from favourable agreements with the government. The number of EIA positive reports and capacity expansion permits for all mines, not just Iliç, is increasing day by day. The ostensible closure of the mine in the previous leak in Iliç and the efforts to minimize the seriousness of the incident by saying that this disaster was in reality just a landslide, are the result of the agreement of the capital and the state. This result paves the way for other disasters.

To what do you attribute the ability of international monopolies to carry out, in countries like Turkey, many practices that are otherwise normally prohibited?

Turkey has become the dumping ground of the EU. The ease with which cyanide and asbestos can be used is an indication of how capital's greed for profit is superior to the right to life of humans and all living things, and how deep Turkey's relationship with international capital actually is. With the practice of ecological struggle that has developed in the last few years, there is more awareness that the problem stems from capitalism. The massacre can be stopped by developing these practices and increasing the struggle.