Toxic sludge from mine pollutes canal in Turkey

Toxic sludge from mine pollutes canal in Turkey
A+ A-
Independent analysis shows heavy metals in water thousands of times above legal limits.

By Osman Cakli

Independent analysis of water samples taken from a canal near a copper mine operated by Acacia Mining in the Hanonu district of Kastamonu, Turkey, revealed alarmingly high levels of heavy metals discharged into the waterway.

The samples, collected on June 22 by resident Mehmet Soysal and analyzed on July 28, showed concentrations of lead, iron, mercury, chromium, and copper thousands of times higher than legal limits. According to Turkish regulations, lead concentrations should not exceed 0.5 mg/L but tested at 153.99 mg/L. Iron was 184,000 mg/L compared to a five mg/L limit, and copper was 153,000 mg/L, far exceeding the five mg/L limit.

Local farmers use the contaminated canal water to irrigate fields and flow into the Gokırmak River, raising concerns about impacts on agriculture, wildlife, and public health. According to environmental engineer Ahmet Kahraman, the heavy metals could lead to cancer, organ damage, and other severe illnesses if ingested.

Soysal says he filed a criminal complaint against Acacia Mining based on the results, but authorities rejected it by refusing to take their samples. During a site visit with police and Environment Ministry officials, Soysal says the authorities claimed the water was clean and would not take samples for testing despite the visible pollution.

"The police chief refused to sign the provincial directorate's report claiming the water was clean," Soysal said. "The police chief said he would not sign such a report."

Soysal called on the Provincial Directorate of Environment and Urbanization to thoroughly investigate the situation. Experts say groundwater in the area should also be tested for heavy metal contamination, which could affect drinking water sources.

Acacia Mining has previously faced complaints about pollution from its mining operations in the area. However, Turkish authorities have taken no action to hold the company accountable or stop the release of dangerous pollutants into public waterways.