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Cablegate: Turkey: Environmental Highlights, March 2003

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 002287

SIPDIS


STATE FOR OES, EUR/SE


E.O.12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV TBIO TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY: ENVIRONMENTAL HIGHLIGHTS, MARCH 2003

REF: ANKARA 1304


(U) This is one of a series of cables providing updates on
environmental issues in Turkey. Below are topics covered in
this cable:


1. Toxic Waste Update
2. Parliament Rings up "NO SALE" of Forests
3. First EIA Guidelines for Provinces
4. REC Update
5. Big Izmir Channel Project Gets Bigger
--------------------------------------------- --


1. TOXIC WASTE UPDATE


a) After missing their January meeting in Geneva with the
Basel Convention Secretariat, GOT representatives reached an
agreement with Spain and the Basel Secretariat on the
disposition of "Ulla," the ship that departed three years
ago from Spain and landed on Turkey's Mediterranean shores
with a cargo of toxic fly ash. The GOS has agreed to urge
the company that owns the ship to take it back, waste
materials and all. Meanwhile, the GOT is scouring its laws
to assure that no loophole could prevent the ship from
departing, or make Turkey liable.


b) A representative of the Basel Convention Secretariat
told REO recently that the Secretariat will leave the
disposition of the French-flagged "Sea Beirut" to Turkey and
France to work out between them. A Turkish company brought
the "Sea Beirut" to shipbreaking facilities at Aliaga
(Izmir) last year without knowing the ship contained
hazardous substances. The boatbreaking facilities in Aliaga
are not up to international standards, driving Turkey to
press for the ship's removal in lieu of its dismantlement.


c) GOT is preparing for the arrival of an Italian technical
delegation that will examine some of the thousands of
barrels of toxins that that washed ashore on Turkey's Black
Sea early 2002. The barrels were allegedly dumped illegally
in the Black Sea in 1987 and remained submerged with their
contain toxic contents until surfacing last year. The waste
is believed to be of Italian origin.


2. PARLIAMENT RINGS UP "NO SALE" ON FOREST. In a close
vote (366 votes received, 367 votes required) on 4/4,
Parliament voted against approving the sale of forest land,
even though the acreage had lost its forest characteristics
prior to 1981 and cannot be rehabilitied or returned to
forest condition. Forest Minister Osman Pepe announced the
sale on 3/19, expecting to sell off five billion m2 (500,000
hectares), or about 2-2.5 percent of Turkey's total forest
land, to raise $20 - 25 billion in revenue. The sale would
have increased the amount of forest acreage in private hands
from .1 percent to 10 percent, drawing closer to the EU
average of 65 percent.


3. FIRST EIA PROVINCIAL GUIDELINES FOR ISSUED. The Ministry
of Environment (MOE) issued Environmental Impact Assessment
(EIA) guidelines on 3/1 for provincial governorates in an
effort to eliminate the widely differing review criteria
applied from province to province. The guidelines are the
Ministry's first effort at standardizing review criteria for
EIAs since the EIA regulation was passed in 1993. The newly
issued guidelines apply only to projects that are projected
to have a low level of impact on the environment.


4. REC TURKEY UPDATE. MFA Environment Department Head Asli
Oral projected that Parliament will wait until later this
Spring to consider ratification of the Charter and Bilateral
Agreement for the proposed Regional Environmental Center
(REC) in Ankara. She reiterated that the future legal
status of the REC is still in question (international
organization, association or special designation).


5. IZMIR's "BIG CHANNEL" GETS BIGGER. Izmir Metropolitan
Municipality's "Big Channel Project" designed to reduce
wastewater discharge into the Izmir Gulf is expanding to
three neighboring districts outside the metropolitan
municipality. The expansion adds $350,000 to the cost of
$80 million-project, which was funded entirely from city
resources. In a press release, Mayor Ahmet Piristina said
the project would also address the pollution dumped into
Izmir Gulf from the Gediz River, a carrier of significant
industrial pollution.


PEARSON

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