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Created on: 2018-05-22 10:03:02
Last update: 2019-10-10 19:33:39
Yann Louvel, Energy and Climate Campaign Coordinator
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Why this profile?
The Emba Hunutlu coal power plant is planned at a biodiversity protection zone and faces many local and national oppositions due to its pollution, health, environmental, and climate impacts.
About Emba Hunutlu coal power plant
The Emba Hunutlu project is a planned 1,320MW coal power plant in Yumurtalik, at the Iskenderun Bay area, district of Adana in Turkey. The project received its permit in 2015, but still has not secured all funding. The project's sponsor, Emba Electricity Production, is a joint venture between China's Shanghai Electric Power (SEP) and Avic-International Project Engineering Company, and four undisclosed Turkish investors. SEP holds 78.21 percent of the shares. The project is expected to cost USD 1.7 billion and is announced as China's largest direct investment in Turkey.
In July 2015 Emba gained the Construction and Generation Permit from the Turkish Energy Market Regulation Authority (EMRA). The project is planned in Yumurtalik, a small coastal town where communities mainly live on agriculture and fishing. Local communities and CSOs have been taking legal actions and campaigning, against all coal power plants for more than a decade. In July 2017 TEMA (Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion for Reforestation and the Protection of Natural Habitats) filed a law suit to cancel the urban plan revisions of the Emba Hunutlu project. TEMA objects the legality of the permit on a conservation site designated for internationally protected marine turtles.
Twenty court cases are in progress against planned and operational coal power plant projects in Iskenderun Bay. Among the thirteen that started in 2011 and 2014, on cumulative pollution impacts grounds, three were recognized twice by the plenary session of administrative law divisions, with the same majority of votes (12/3).
Seven of those court cases were opened by local groups gathered under the local platform Doğu Akdeniz Çevre Platformu (East Mediterranean Environment Platform) in 2016 for the cancellation of permits or pre-permits of planned coal power plants, including Hunutlu’s operation permit, highlighting the cumulative impact on local livelihoods and ecosystems.
In the framework of permit cancellation lawsuit opened against Emba Hunutlu by local communities, a legal expert visit took place on 13 July 2017. In December 2017, the expert report agreed with local community arguments on cumulative pollution impacts of Hunutlu, to be added on top of existing coal power plants and other highly polluting industrial facilities. The report also quoted cancer rates in the region, speaking about Hunutlu's potential impacts on air quality and agricultural products.
Due to strong opposition by local, national and international civil society groups, in November 2015 French utility Engie announced cancellation of the Ada coal power plant planned in Yumurtalık.
What must happen
The Paris Climate Agreement goals require a managed decline of fossil fuel production. The construction of new coal-fired power plants is not compatible with this goal. Banks must immediately stop financing new coal-fired power plant developments anywhere in the world. As such, banks should steer clear of financing the Emba Hunutlu coal power project.
Iskenderun Bay in the south-east Mediterranean region of Turkey is a highly populated area with metropolitan cities such as Adana, Mersin and Hatay. The total population of the region known as Cukurova Region with all four provinces is almost six million. The region is expected to grow from migration from within Turkey and from Syria. The region also hosts seasonal agricultural workers. The major economic activity is agriculture, due to the optimum climate conditions, geographical features, soil fertility, and irrigation opportunities.
6.8% of Turkey’s total added value of the agricultural sector comes from Adana and Mersin’s agricultural production, and the Erzin district of Hatay is home to 20% of the citrus production of the entire country. However, the area is getting more and more polluted due to heavy industrial infrastructure projects. Any new coal projects to operate in Iskenderun Bay, including Emba Hunutlu, will have a major impact on the primary agricultural activity of the local communities.
Over its projected life span the Emba Hunutlu coal power plant would be responsible for emitting about 207.44 million tonnes of CO2. Studies on heavy metal contents of soil, water and animals in the larger Iskenderun Bay region have given adequate evidence to conclude that the region has already serious pollution burden due to industrial and agricultural activities. If new coal power plants are built as planned, this would add to this environmental burden and associated burden of disease in the region.
Biodiversity protection The area where the Hunutlu power plant is planned in Yumurtalık is a biodiversity hotspot with reproduction zones of marine turtles which are protected by international conventions. The area is internationally protected by the Convention on Biological Diversity (1992) to which both China and Turkey are parties, as well as the Bern Convention on Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (1979), especially regarding preservation of Caretta caretta and Chelonia mydas reproduction areas and population. The site is protected by the circular of 2009/10 on the protection of sea turtles. The project poses severe risks to these protected species not only via coal shipments and delivery, but also its cooling water discharges.
Air pollution Between Jan 1993 and Jan 1994, a study to determine the prevalence of childhood asthma and other allergic diseases was carried out in Adana, examining 2,334 children, in 23.6 percent of whom were diagnosed with Asthma and other respiratory allergic diseases. The symptoms of respiratory allergic diseases (asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, wheezing) seemed to be significantly associated with the environmental facto 23.6 percent prevalence rate, in childhood asthma, is above the global and national means, as stated in Turkey Health Statistics Annual Report 2015: prevalence of childhood asthma in Turkey is between 5% and 10% depending on the geographical conditions.
Construction of the Emba Hunutlu coal power plant has started
In May 2019, the company initiated the construction of the coal power plant project. However, it was paused in June because of the tortoise nesting season, according to the local conservation group EKAD.
ESI Eurosilo receives order for large coal silos for the Emba Hunutlu coal power plant
In April 2019, Dutch company, ESI Eurosilo, announced that it received a large order with the request for three large coal silos for the EMBA Hunutlu power plant. The first silo is agreed to be delivered at the beginning of 2020 and full delivery to be finished at the end of 2020 (Powertechnology.com).
Interventions at the second Belt and Road forum in April 2019
Just before the second Belt and Road forum which took place in Beijing in late April, the groups HEAL, WWF Turkey, TEMA Foundation, Climate Action Network Europe (CAN-Europe) and Eastern Mediterranean Environmental Protection Platform issued a joint press release describing the unlawful environmental and health effects of the Hunutlu project.
Meanwhile, during the second Belt and Road forum SEP issued a statement, declaring: “SEP will join hands with various parties to construct the project into a clean, efficient, reliable and beautiful world-class power plant, and create a crown jewel of the power industry around the Mediterranean Sea.”
Ankara court decides not to cancel Emba Hunutlu project permit
On 30th of October 2018, the hearing of the court case by Adana Bar, Turkish Bar Associations, Medical Chamber of Adana, Agriculture and Engineers Chamber of Adana Doğu Akdeniz Çevre Dernekleri (East Mediterranean Environment Associations) was held in Ankara. Despite the expert report, which stated the harmful effects of the plant, the Ankara District Administrative Court decided not to cancel the permit of the Emba project.
Expert report confirms impacts of Emba Hunutlu coal power plant project
In January 2018, the expert report for the court case filed by Adana Bar, Turkish Bar Associations, Medical Chamber of Adana, Agriculture and Engineers Chamber of Adana and Doğu Akdeniz Çevre Dernekleri (East Mediterranean Environment Associations) was published, acknowledging that the Emba Hunutlu coal power plant would harm the public health and agricultural production in the area.
TEMA files lawsuit
In July 2017, TEMA (Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion, for Reforestation, and the Protection of Natural Habitats) filed a lawsuit to cancel the urban plan revisions of the Emba Hunutlu project, granting the permission to build the coastal structures of the coal plant on biodiversity conservation grounds. TEMA objects the legality of the project’s permit on a conservation site designated for internationally protected marine turtles.
Lawsuits filed against seven coal power plant projects
In June 2016, Adana Bar, Turkish Bar Associations, Medical Chamber of Adana, Agriculture and Engineers Chamber of Adana and Doğu Akdeniz Çevre Dernekleri (East Mediterranean Environment Associations) filed a lawsuit against seven coal plant projects in the region including Emba Hunutlu.
The project will be funded by 20% equity and 80% debt. The debt funding has not yet been secured. Shanghai Electric and Avic International (owners of Emba Hunutlu) are funded by a group of (mainly Chinese) banks. Below are listed loans and underwriting services between 2010 and 2016 to these companies.