Construction said to be halted at Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant

The construction of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant in southern Turkey has come to a halt and the fate of the plant is awaiting the upcoming meeting between Erdoğan and Putin, a worker from the construction site told Gazete Duvar.

İsmail Sarp Aykurt / DUVAR

The construction of the Russian-built Akkuyu power plant in southern Turkey has come to a halt with the exact cause of the stoppage being unknown.

Russia’s Rosatom has annulled its contract with Turkish builder firm IC İçtaş to undertake the remaining construction work at the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant and instead awarded the deal to Russian TSM Enerji in July.

One claim is that the construction has come to a halt after the contract with the Turkish IC İçtaş was terminated. 

A worker working at the construction of the plant told Gazete Duvar that the future of the construction depends on the upcoming meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. 

Erdoğan and Putin are expected to meet on the sidelines of a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Uzbekistan on Sept. 15-16.

The worker said there have not been any works undertaken at the construction site for a while now. He said that some warehouses were plundered and the employees could not receive a salary for a while.

Emphasizing that all eyes are on the Putin-Erdoğan meeting, the worker said that there may not be a clear result from the meeting as well.

"There are employees who have been working for two-three years. (The company) continues to pay their insurance, but not salary," he said. 

The worker also touched upon recent reports of 500 workers having been dismissed and said: "There are many more. What I know is that 7,000 people have been dismissed. They were İçtaş's own workers.”

IC İçtaş on July 29 had issued a statement regarding the termination of its contract with Rosatom. It had said: “It is clear that the main purpose of the termination is to reduce the presence of Turkish companies in the management of the project.”

Afterwards, IC İçtaş applied to a local court and had its equipment sealed in the facility.

Rosatom cited occupational safety and unlawfulness as reasons for the termination of the contract. 

It said that IC İçtaş was warned many times but no occupational safety measures were taken. It also said that lack of precautions led to worker deaths. 

The Turkish government aims to start operating the first reactor at the total 4,800-megawatt (MW) plant before the general elections next year.

The plant is expected to produce up to 10% of the country's electricity once all four reactors are in operation.

President Erdoğan had previously suggested that Turkey could work with Russia on the construction of two further plants.

Meanwhile, a main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) lawmaker on July 30 had said that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had paved the way for IC İçtaş contract's termination. 

“The AKP gave Akkuyu completely under the control of the Russians. They no longer know what's going on inside. The Russians made it a military base,” CHP MP Alpay Antmen had tweeted. 

(English version by Alperen Şen)