Frightening report for Hatay: Asbestos detected in 16 out of 45 samples

Frightening report for Hatay: Asbestos detected in 16 out of 45 samples
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After the February earthquake in Turkey, concerns arise regarding contractors' management of asbestos-containing materials.

A recent report by the Chamber of Environmental Engineers on Hatay, a province which was hit severely by the February earthquake in Turkey has raised alarming concerns, as out of 45 samples taken from human habitation areas, 16 were found to contain asbestos.

After the recent earthquake, a statement was made by the relevant bureaucrat of the period, revealing that contractors have been entrusted with the responsibility of taking necessary precautions regarding solid materials containing asbestos in tenders. The statement emphasized, “A clause has been added to the specifications used in the tenders, making it the responsibility of the contracting firms to take necessary measures related to solid materials containing asbestos.”

However, several questions arise from this directive. What measures have the contracting firms taken concerning solid materials with asbestos so far? And what is the amount of asbestos-containing materials that have been disposed of? Moreover, how many of the contractor firms, who have been actually handling the waste produced as a result of the earthquake, have employed environmental engineers?

The responsibility of the authorities is not to turn a blind eye to the truth about asbestos but to take the required precautions.

Adding to the concerns, asbestos removal expert and environmental engineer Akan Çelik has emphasized that the debris storage areas have been wrongly chosen. During the debris removal, transportation, and storage, necessary precautions were overlooked. Çelik pointed out, “Asbestos can only be stored by burying it. Therefore, all identified materials containing asbestos should be meticulously separated and buried as soon as possible. Failure to take precautions will expose the residents of the region to the risk of cancer. The individual measure that people living, working, or present in the region can take is to use an asbestos-preventing mask. It is imperative for the authorities to distribute masks with asbestos-preventing qualities to those in the area and encourage its usage