Dozens detained in environmental protest in western Turkey

Turkish police intervened against locals and activists protesting the construction of a geothermal power plant in the western Turkish province of Manisa, detaining 38 people, independent news site Bianet reported on Monday.

Police swarmed a vigil launched on Monday morning by locals and environmental activists in Manita’s Salihli district to protest the geothermal plant to be constructed adjacent to a residential area after citizens blocked off a road.

Protesters blocked the passage of construction equipment on the road and put up signs that read, “We don’t want to get cancer”.

Police units arrived at the scene in riot gear and used pepper spray on the group, Bianet said.

Locals had appealed to the courts against the power plant, but the project undertaker Sanko Holding started construction before the process was completed, Salihli Environmental Association Chairperson Seçil Ege Değerli told Bianet.

“The governorate ordered over 300 police officers to attack 500 people,” said Değerli.

According to the association, the power plant site is only 100 metres from a residential area, which includes three schools with some 500 students, in addition to area with cultivated lands, reported Bianet.

Citizen journalists dokuz8 news shared a video on Twitter that showed a soldier taking a citizen's phone after she dropped it on the ground in a skirmish and saying, "This one recorded many videos, let's break this phone."

Uncontrolled discharge of waste waters have led to contamination in clean water sources in previous geothermal projects in Turkey as the process uses hazardous chemicals, Dr. Orhan Gündüz from Turkey’s Dokuz Eylul University Department of Environmental Engineering said in a 2018 report.

Geothermal power plants also create micro-earthquakes and occasional explosions due to pressure-build up, in addition to generating a constant loud noise.