Cyprus to bear the brunt in a possible nuclear accident in Akkuyu, scientist tells CNA

Cyprus will bear the brunt in case of an accident in the nuclear power plant Turkey began constructing in the southern coastal city of Akkuyu, close to Cyprus’ shores.

Theodoros Christoudias, Assistant Professor at the Cyprus Institute, told CNA that the island is located within the high-risk zone. Cyprus’ capital Nicosia will be affected to the same degree as the Turkish city of Mersin, he went on citing studies conducted by the Cyprus Institute in cooperation with the Max Planck Institute of Chemistry.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin launched Tuesday the construction of what will become the country’s first nuclear power plant, planned to be operational by in 2023.

Explaining the potential hazards from a nuclear accident so close to Cyprus, the Assistant Professor cited the short distance, as well as the weather conditions that allow the atmospheric dispersion of radioactivity. The biggest health risks for humans, he added, emanate not so much from exposure, but from inhaling and swallowing radioactive substances that enter the food chain.

He added that some of the radioactive substances that are released in the atmosphere following an accident, such as radioactive Caesium, have a lifespan of several decades.

Christoudias published in 2014 a relevant study, assessing the global impact of nuclear accidents. The study, coauthored with Yiannis Proestos, also from the Cyprus Institute and Jos Lelieveld from the Max Planck Institute of Chemistry, lays emphasis in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East and makes particular reference to Cyprus, due to the construction of the Akkuyu plant.

Asked if technological advances minimize the risks from a potential accident, the Assistant Professor said that no one can claim there is no risk involved. This is also evident from past accidents, both in Fukushima in 2011 and in the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, he added.

Nobody can preclude a potential accident, while there is also the possibility of human error or other scenarios, such as acts of terrorism that are not easy to predict, Christoudias concluded.

Source: Cyprus News Agency