Mining can proceed without environmental impact assessment in quake-torn Hatay

The quake-torn Hatay province's governor has allowed mining and quarrying activities to proceed without requiring an Environmental Impact Assessment (ÇED) report or local community consultation due to so-called heightened demand for materials for the city's reconstruction. MPs, lawyers, and activists stated that the decision would have detrimental effects for environment.

Burcu Özkaya Günaydın / Gazete Duvar 

According to the decision taken by the Hatay Governor in August, the companies did not need to obtain an Environmental Impact Assessment (ÇED) report for mining exploration and quarrying activities and to hold a public information meeting.

The southeastern Hatay province was devastated by Feb. 6 earthquakes that killed at least 22,000 people and left thousands homeless in the city. 

According to the decision of the meeting held on Aug. 2 by the Provincial Directorate of Environment, Urbanization, and Climate Change, the governor’s office stated that "the earthquakes caused a lot of destruction in our province and mining and mineral materials were needed in the construction of our province." 

According to the governor's office, the reason for paving the way for mining activities in “sensitive areas” is "to avoid any problems in the supply of materials needed for the reconstruction of the city."

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Hatay lawmaker Nermin Yıldırım Kara stated that the “sensitive area” regulation is a provision that aims to protect the animals, ecosystem and air in the region.

She underscored that the decision to not seeking a ÇED report did not prioritize human and environmental health and stated, "We strongly oppose this regulation that will cause more pollution in a city that has experienced earthquake’s burden and pollution. The increasing need for housing resulting from the quakes cannot be an excuse for the destruction of nature.”

Nilgün Karasu, President of Hatay Environmental Protection Association, described this decision as an “attempt to kill Hatay,” and said that Hatay, which has been suffocating from asbestos and dust for eight months, would be destroyed by quarries.

Many experts asserted that asbestos spread to the city because the rubble removal works were not carried out properly.

Karasu stated that the court has already decided that the ÇED reports were not necessary for 12 quarries which were located close to the living areas. 

The Hatay Bar Association filed a lawsuit against the governor’s decision, but the court rejected the case on the grounds that it was outside the mandate of the bar association. The lawsuit against this decision is ongoing.

(English version by Can Bodrumlu)