Protesters demand factories to stop releasing pollutants into local stream in Turkey's Bolu

On World Environment Day, activists gathered at the Gerede Stream in central Turkey’s Bolu province to protest the pollution caused by the nearby industrial zone. Activists highlighted health risks to people and animals and demanded to limit the release of pollutants.

Protesters opened a banner that reads, "Let Gerede Stream run clean."

Mustafa Özdemir / Gazete Duvar

Environmental organizations, villagers, and activists on June 5 convened at the Gerede Stream in Turkey’s central province of Bolu to protest the nearby industrial zone for polluting the water and causing harm to the environment. 

The Gerede Stream is one of the tributaries of the Filyos River, a major river that passes through over 100 villages along its 288-kilometer course over the Bolu and Karabük districts in central Turkey. 

The untreated water discharged by the Gerede Mixed and Leather Organized Industrial Zone polluted the water and emitted a foul odor. Activists gathered at the discharge point for World Environment Day and called for an immediate end to the "disgrace."

Protesters hold signs that read, "Republic of Turkey, hear our cries!"

Villagers who attended the protest said they had to leave their birthplaces due to the unbearable smell. The locals stated that the few remaining residents had animals that fell ill after drinking the polluted water, leading to frequent animal deaths. They called on officials, including the governor and the Minister of Environment and Urbanization, to revoke the operating licenses of all factories without treatment facilities.

The joint statement revealed the state of the problem, "The wastewater from the activities of the Gerede Leather and Mixed Organized Industrial Zone have severely polluted the Filyos River Basin for many years. Every day, tons of toxic wastewater are illegally dumped into the Gerede Stream."

Pollution on the Gerede Stream causes a foul odor, animal deaths, and irrigation problems. 

The statement also noted that since 2020, the clean waters of the Gerede Stream have been transferred to Ankara, leaving only six percent in the stream's basin. 

With the flow reduced and and its lifeblood taken, the stream has essentially become an “open sewer.” 

“This pollution threatens our people's health and brings about bad odors, fish deaths, and problems with agricultural irrigation," the statement continued. 

Civil society organizations were taking action to implement comprehensive wastewater treatment facilities and sustainable production techniques in industrial zones to protect and clean the basin. 

The protesters described the situation as a "disgrace, and banditry.” 

(English version by Ayşenaz Toptaş)