The governor's office of the southern province of Mersin said late on Jan. 19 that a "controlled explosion" took place at the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant construction site, which damaged the nearby houses and greenhouses.
The governor's office said that a commission was established to "determine the damages" in the Büyükeceli region and that "citizens' damages will be compensated."
It also said that a team from the police forces had been assigned to investigate the explosion. "The incident will be investigated in all aspects and the necessary procedures will be undertaken with regards to those who are responsible," the statement read.
The official statement came after main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Ali Mahir Başarır announced on social media that two big explosions had occurred at the power plant construction site at about 6.20 p.m. local time.
He shared a video recorded by a citizen showing the explosion and said: "The people of the region are in panic. They say that they no longer want to experience these dangers, these problems with regards to the nuclear power plant. The district governor's office or gendarmerie are not giving any information."
Emphasizing that locals' houses have been greatly damaged in the explosion, Başarır said: "Please if you are going to build a nuclear power plant, build it in a geography that is less dangerous, except Mersin, and at a place that is not a seismic zone. Mersin, Mersin locals do not want a nuclear power plant at Akkuyu."
Mersinliler olarak, Nükleer Akkuyu’daki bu tehlikeleri, patlamaları yaşamak istemiyoruz!— Ali Mahir Başarır (@alimahir) January 19, 2021
Nükleer yapacaksanız, deprem bölgesinde olmayan, Mersin dışında bir yerde yapın.
Mersin halkı, nükleer santrali Akkuyu’da istemiyor! pic.twitter.com/vztcHloT79
The power plant is being built by Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy company Rosatom under an intergovernmental agreement signed in 2010.
The facility is scheduled to become operational in 2023 and will be Turkey's first nuclear power plant. The build-operate-transfer project has been granted a 49-year production license that expires in June 2066.
The construction of the nuclear plant is widely criticized by environmental activists for the risks associated with nuclear energy and is also slammed by locals for the imminent effects of the ongoing work.