'İzmir's Chernobyl': Nuclear waste in former factory site worries locals

A lot where a lead factory stood in Aegean İzmir continues to pollute the area as the nuclear and lead waste was never properly removed after the factory's closure, lawyer Arif Ali Cangı said. "This place spreads poison and death," Cangı said about the area, often dubbed "İzmir's Chernobyl."

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A lot in the Gaziemir district of the Aegean province of İzmir where a lead factory used to operate still contains nuclear and lead waste, presenting a threat to the general public as the area is open for anyone to wander onto, lawyer Arif Ali Cangı said. 

"This place spreads poison and death," Cangı said about the area, often dubbed "İzmir's Chernobyl."

The disastrous management of toxic waste by the lead factory was revealed in 2007, with around 100,000 tons of radioactive and toxic waste being detected in the seven-hectare lot, which presented 219 times the acceptable amount.

The factory shut down in 2010, but the operating company continued working under a new name despite receiving a 5.7-million-lira fine.

"The nuclear and lead waste here needs to be removed immediately," Cangı is heard saying in a video released by Anka News Agency.  

The lot has been awaiting proper rehabilitation for the past 14 years, but the soil starts to smoke after each rainfall, Cangı noted. 

"I shouldn't even be able to stand on this lot, but I strolled right in," Cangı said.

Animals also wander onto the field to graze, and the lot is surrounded by schools and residential areas, the attorney noted. 

"We are wearing two masks but my throat still hurts," Cangı said. "This is a massive public safety and health threat. 

Turkey is inexperienced in moving nuclear waste, and this lot also contains lead waste, which is why the local and central government should collaborate to clean the area, the attorney added.