THE UNWANTED SHIP: 'KUITO'
Radioactivity risk on Angolan ship to Turkey stirs debate
The ship, named Kuito, was loaded with radioactive material, the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB) said at a Feb. 2 press meeting in front of the Ship Dismantling Facility in the town of Aliağa, the final destination of the ship.
“Once the ship anchors in Aliağa, it will be very difficult to send it back to Angola” said Baran Bozoğlu, the head of the chamber, in his warning.
The ship should be halted off Aliağa and carefully inspected, he said, as a group of environmentalists lent their support to him.
However, the Environment and Urban Ministry said in a statement on the issue that Turkey has obeyed the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, and there were no legal applications to the ministry on the operation on Kuito, as it would be returned in case of any irregularity.
The initial radioactivity cleaning assessment of the ship in November last year was not negative and a second inspection by the U.K.s Aberdeen Radiation confirmed the initial report, the statement read.
The ministry said the ship will be anchored for tests off Aliağa and inspected by a large team before it is granted permission.
The chamber has asked for a 60-day inspection instead of mobile checks of a few hours.
Kuito is being pulled by a trailer named Uranus, Bozoğlu said, claiming radioactivity findings were fivefold of the normal values, contradicting the government’s information.
The ship circled around the Greek island of Crete for two or three days, but this might be due to heavy winds that have affected the region recently, and the ship headed toward Turkey late on Feb. 1, he noted.
A report by a company named Texcom says the level of radioactivity is high and calls for a more detailed study, he said.
“Besides, we know it is openly highlighted that oil refining ships have a high level of natural radioactivity” he said.
The ship has a pipeline system of around 2 million meters in length, the insides of which are contaminated with oil waste, he said.
The ship refined crude oil beginning in 1979, and began its Angola mission in 2000 after a 1999 modification. It refines 100,000 barrels of oil daily and has a storage capacity of 1.4 million barrels.
“We had warned the officials to take measures in the light of all this information,” Bozoğlu said, “But we have not received a response yet.”
He also said officials lacked knowledge on the issue, while questioning Angolan know-how.
A contract between the Turkish officials and the Angolan government also points at the risks of radioactivity, and if found, any radioactively contaminated material should be sent back in accordance, he said.
Bozoğlu also said the ship was bought for $250 per ton, which is half of the dismantling price in India or Bangladesh, as he warned about labor risks due to working on inflammable and explosive materials.
Helil İnay Kınay, the local representative of the chamber, said they demanded transparency from the officials in information sharing, also saying that TMOBB has already launched a legal process on the issue.