Henry V, Act III Scene 1
(with apologies to the Bard from Stratford-upon-Avon)
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our
English village dead.
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man or woman
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of environmental war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood!
Blogging has taken a bit of a back seat recently. What with the sudden, unannounced arrival of a huge drilling rig in our midst just over two weeks ago and the MotoGP from Assen yesterday (Saturday) I’ve been a bit preoccupied with other things and other thoughts.
It all began three years ago when, without any consultation or proper notice, a company that is said to have connections within the former ruling political party was granted a license to drill for geothermal hot water in Okçular – anywhere in Okçular including private land! There were rumours going around, but nothing concrete.
Then, just over two weeks ago, J and I woke up to a strange grinding sound somewhere near the village cemetery. We wandered up to investigate and found what you see in the photo above. We must have been out when they arrived because we saw nothing go past our house.
Besides the crew there was a guy who, by his attitude and manner, appeared to be a ‘patron’. J began to question him and he certainly acted as if being questioned by a mere woman was beneath him. He learned otherwise! What he told us was that they were drilling for hot water to be used for a spa/fitness hotel somewhere between Okçular and Ortaca and that they would also be selling the water to other hotels who wanted it in Dalyan and Ortaca.
Armed with this information we went to our muhtar (village headman). He informed us that he knew about the project but not when it was starting. He claimed to have called a meeting of the villagers but we have yet to meet anyone who knew of it. We asked if he realised how dangerous this sort of thing would be to the environment and the livelihoods of our farming neighbours. He didn’t, but claimed they had a license so what could be done about it.
We suggested he call a village meeting. ‘OK’, he said ‘Next week.’ ‘No, tomorrow!’ said we – and so it began. News of what is planned is now spreading via the media.
With the help of friends in other places we have learned a lot in just a few days. There has been no environmental impact report/ÇED rapor, for example. With this information and knowledge of what is planned the village has begun the fight back. Trust me, there are a lot of very angry people here! We have been fortunate to have the dedicated support of the fantastic team of environmentalists who successfully defended Yuvarlakçay and İztuzu Beach. With their guidance we will be effective instead of floundering about in the dark.
Geothermal is not all that it is cracked up to be. For example, in Aydin Province there are a number of ‘closed’ geothermal installations where the hot water is extracted, the heat used and then the water is returned to where it came from. These projects are held up around the world as models of excellence! Yet still the farmers in these areas are having their trees and land poisoned and their livelihoods destroyed.
Here, in Okçular, the system will be ‘open’. The water, which is full of such substances as arsenic, boron, selenium, iron, cadmium, fluoride, hydrogen, sulfur, mercury, ammonia, radon, carbon dioxide and methane, in some instances the water is radio-active, will be pumped through pipes laid alongside the village water supply. We know from experience how often pipes under/alongside the road get damaged by heavy vehicles. When the water eventually arrives at spa hotels in Dalyan (and we already know which some of them are), or wherever, it will be pumped through the pools and then discharged – where? Into the canals or directly into the ground!
When this stuff is being extracted the borehole has to be constructed using welded steel pipes that are then lined with concrete to minimise the risks from cross-contamination with drinking and surface water. There is a very, very good reason for that when you look at the contaminants listed above! What are the controls that should be in place when this toxic water is being piped around and eventually discharged?
Part of the actions being taken by the village and our supporters is to start a court case and seek an injunction. This will force those behind the project and the government to open up the licenses and permissions to public examination. Apart from anything else, the drilling is being carried out illegally because it is well inside the boundary of exclusion for the village cemetery. There is an online petition where those of you who want to support us can do so, just click the link. It is complimentary to the paper petition that is being mounted locally and will only be up for a short time as it will go to the judge of the special court in about a week. We have more than one iron in the fire and I am truly optimistic that the village will prevail in the end. That said, there is no place for complacency and the battle continues on several fronts.
To quote a hero of mine, Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos;
‘¡Ya Basta!’ Enough!
Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü
ps Valentino Rossi won the Assen TT in a glorious, unforgiving battle – there’s a moral in there somewhere!