Turkish public reluctant about going nuclear, says opinion poll

GILA BENMAYOR
ISTANBUL – Hürriyet
Among women, 67.5 percent opposed the government’s nuclear plans, compared to 60.6 percent of men.
Among women, 67.5 percent opposed the government’s nuclear plans, compared to 60.6 percent of men.

Nearly two-thirds of Turkish citizens oppose the proposed construction of nuclear power plants in Turkey, according to an opinion poll conducted on behalf of the international environmental organization Greenpeace in mid-April.
Prominent business leader Ümit Boyner has also expressed concerns about Turkey’s nuclear drive.
“This is not just an issue about energy. Turkey is a country of earthquakes. There are risks involved. The whole process must be tackled with all the details in sight; it must be managed more transparently. [Building nuclear plants] should not be done in a hurry,” said Boyner, the chairwoman of the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association, or TÜS?AD, an influential lobby group.
When asked how they would vote were a referendum to be held on whether to proceed with the construction of nuclear plants in Turkey, some 64 percent of survey participants replied negatively, while only 6.6 percent said they believed that nuclear plants would contribute to Turkey’s development. Some 52.9 percent also said Turkey was not ready for nuclear technology yet. The rate of people who objected to the use of nuclear energy in Turkey was higher among university graduates and the country’s younger population.

Among women, 67.5 percent opposed the government’s nuclear plans, compared to 60.6 percent of men. Of voters who said they would cast their ballot for the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, 41.5 percent opposed going nuclear, while 86.2 percent of Republican People’s Party, or CHP, voters, 77.6 percent of Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, voters and 77.6 percent of Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, voters said they were against the proposed nuclear plants.

“If 41 percent of AKP [ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP] voters are against going nuclear, then it would be fitting for the prime minister to take heed of the people’s will,” said Uygar Özesmi, the director of Greenpeace Mediterranean.

The announcement of the results of the survey, conducted by Adil Gür’s A&G Research Company, came after main opposition leader Kemal K?l?çdaro?lu made a public pledge to hold a referendum on whether or not to build nuclear plants in Turkey if his main opposition CHP is brought to power in the June 12 general election.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an’s ruling AKP has expressed determination to go ahead with its plans to build two nuclear plants in Turkey, one in the northern Black Sea province of Sinop, and the other in the southern Mediterranean province of Mersin.

According to the poll results, some 70 percent of people surveyed in Mersin were against the construction of nuclear plants, a rate that climbed to 76 percent in Sinop.

The survey was conducted in 34 of Turkey’s 81 provinces by conducting face-to-face interviews with 2,469 people. Poll director Gür is known for his accurate predictions of election results, according to daily Hürriyet.

Though 93.4 percent of respondents said they were aware of the recent accident at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, only 56 percent said they knew about the nuclear accident at Chernobyl in 1986, whose fallout spread to Turkey’s Black Sea coast.

Some 57.7 percent of survey participants said they believe a nuclear plant built by the Russians would be safer than one built by the Japanese.

In the event of a nuclear accident, 76 percent of those surveyed said they would trust media reports to gain accurate information, while 67 percent said they would trust civil-society organizations and 58.3 percent expressed confidence in state institutions.

In response to a question about where Turkey should turn for its electricity needs, a sweeping 84 percent said “renewables,” with some 66.8 percent indicating solar energy, 66.4 percent indicating wind energy, 27.5 percent indicating natural gas and 23.2 percent indicating hydroelectric power.


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