The signatures of two nuclear engineers who prepared the environmental impact assessment report (ÇED) for Turkey’s prospective nuclear plant in Akkuyu were forged, ahead of the final approval of the mandatory document to allow the facility’s construction, daily BirGün reported Jan. 12.
The plant is scheduled to be built in the southeastern Mediterranean district of Akkuyu.
According to the report, an expert analysis carried out upon the demand of the Chamber of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB), which closely monitors legal procedures, has revealed that signatures were forged twice at different stages of the process.
The first case of forgery dates back to 2013, after a ÇED prepared by the company Dokay Engineering and submitted on July 4 was rejected by the Environment Ministry for shortcomings on July 15. Volkan Erdaş, a nuclear engineer who worked on the report, quit the company on July 31, but his signature figured in the amended document submitted to the ministry on Aug. 23.
After the report was returned by the court, the company worked on a new one, which it submitted on March 31, 2014, with the signature of Kuday Karaaslan, who took over the post. Despite Karaaslan having officially left the company on March 19, his signature still figured on the final environmental assessment report dating Sept. 24. This report was approved by the Environment Ministry on Dec. 1.
The ministry was under massive pressure from the plant’s Russian builder Rosatom to approve the report after the legal process regarding the environmental report dragged on for nearly four years, with time running out for the scheduled date for the start of construction, mid-2015. The ministry’s approval, which came a day ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Turkey, was even interpreted as a “bribe” by some, with the TMMOB announcing that it would legally challenge the report.
Expert: Signatures forged
The expert report, prepared after the analysis of the signatures of both nuclear engineers with special technology, concluded that the signatures on the official documents had been forged.
One of the engineers, Karaaslan, told BirGün that he knew his signature featured on the final document submitted six months after he left the company, but declined to comment on whether it was forged or not.
The expert report now enables an investigation into the Environment Ministry for failing to check the authenticity of the signatures and check whether the nuclear engineers were working at the firm at the time of the signing.
TMMOB officials said the final report may be withdrawn, as the procedures demand its refusal due to the incompatibility of the signatures. It is also expected that Dokay Engineering’s license for preparing assessment reports will be canceled. They also said they will both apply for an internal investigation within the ministry and file a complaint against the institution.
The over 3,000-page report for the $22 billion project was widely revised after being returned three times over the past two years. Efforts to clear the area where the plant will be built are ongoing, although the official start of construction is set for spring 2015. Experts are still pointing out that the report fails to address key issues, such as the area that will be affected by radiation in a possible accident.
Other legal struggles may also await the constructors, as activists are preparing to open lawsuits at the Constitutional Court to suspend the execution of the ÇED if other legal paths are exhausted.