Nuclear Awareness In Turkey – OpEd


Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) management in Ankara closed 30 years of Nuclear education in 1999. More than 2000 M.Sc. and Ph.D. thesis on nuclear technology are standing idle in the library shelves since then. METU has decided to educate the environment and renewable energy. Metu Management has no intention of re-opening the nuclear issue.

However, Nuclear power plant design, engineering, manufacturing, assembly and operation are the sub-discipline of Mechanical Engineering. The nuclear plant is in principle a thermal plant. Nuclear fuel is used instead of fossil fuel. It is completely a thermal power plant design after the nuclear core. Mechanical Engineers can not be far from nuclear technology.


In 2007, a joint study of USA and Israel produced a computer virus named “Stuxnet v.0.5”. In 2009, the virus was transmitted to the computers of Siemens Scada, the control center of the Iranian Busheir Natanz Nuclear Power Plants, with confidential permission of the US President and the work of secret services and memory sticks. All PCs in the plant, all PCs in the employees’ houses were crashed. All have been defeated. The plant construction procurement process is delayed by 2 (two) years.

Meanwhile, the virus was isolated by Iranian computer engineers, the architecture was resolved, more dangerous joints were made, and it was sent back out of Iran. Stuxnet is now out of control in the globe. In the past years, 2 (two) each of 1000 Mwe strong US Nuclear Power Plant was disabled for 3 weeks due to this virus. The loss estimated an estimated US $ 100 million.

Every call you make with Google, every contact you make with gmail, is watched by “Big Brother”. That’s why Iran has stopped using Google and gmail.

The Stuxnet v0.5 Virus and its new clone virus (Flame) have become a very dangerous war weapon. In the future it will not only stop the nuclear control systems, it could now claim out of control. Valves, pumps, control systems may not work or they may work incorrectly or in reverse if any accident has occur, to open or close, which may result in a new “Three-Mile Island”, “Chernobyl” or “Fukushima” disaster. If such an attack is made on Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant control room computers, who will control power plant security? Is there any security weakness? It sounds like science-fiction disaster, but that’s the reality.

In modern times, fighting soldiers no longer use ammunition, guns, rifles, or guns. Syber soldier engineers working on the screen now appeared. Unmanned aerial vehicles are controlled from the US base in Nevada and they are operating in Afghanistan air space.

Our geography is a difficult environment. We have to be strong in order to continue our existence in this difficult geography. We have to provide deterrence against dangerous neighbors with nuclear weapons around us. Defense partnerships are not enough. We need to have conventional weapons and, if necessary, also nuclear weapons. We need unmanned aerial vehicles (drone), ATAK helicopters, F-16 or F-35 aircraft, nuclear weapons. So it is difficult to think of a nuclear-free Turkey.

When the results could not be obtained in normal methods, in 2010, Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant Project was directly tendered to the Northern Neighbor in a closed, secret, imposing easy way to interrogate. The first budget price was 20 billion US Dollars and the first operation was planned in 2020. Then the project execution revision was made. The budget price was increased, the first operating date was moved forward. There is 49% Turkish minority share ownership in the contractor group. Waste control and central computer controls – safety are not clear to public. The construction initiative is no longer in our control.

In our geography we need nuclear technology, reasonable capacity nuclear power plant. But how accurate is the capacity, location and method applied? A political project can only be financed by a political loan. Political credit ends in time. Large projects run with commercial credit support. It is too difficult, or perhaps impossible, to find a commercial loan for a political project.

It is not possible to control the base design of the project.
There are a lot of questions.
How to cool Akkuyu nuclear plant with very hot (average + 30C) sea water?
Who will handle waste management?
How will the wastes be transported, where will they be transported?
How is the “Waste Storage” to save the environment and humans in case of any accident,
Is there any “emergency evacuation plan”?

Every year we send 75-80 young students to our Northern Neighbor. At this point in time, some of them must have their graduation. Where are they employed? Are they are trained in nuclear plant management, not nuclear design engineers, but rather as nuclear plant operators? How are we going to give the nuclear power plant responsibility to the inexperienced new graduates?

Bursa Orhaneli 210 Mwe thermal power plant, Seydişehir Aluminum Plants, Iskenderun Iron and Steel Factory, previously constructed by our Northern neighbor with the same procurement method, however they have not been able to work smoothly in our environment. The arctic designs of our Northern Neighbors that are only compatible with their very cold climate, are not suitable to our warm climate. They quickly breakdown in operation and do not show market consistency and continuity.

In France, 79% of electricity is produced from nuclear power plants, but all nuclear power plants are of French design, French fabrication. The operation is entirely carried out by French personnel. They have problems in waste management, but everything is solved by themselves. The solution is themselves. There is no stranger third party in the middle. Ours is completely foreign to us. Your writer does not know how this will work, and worries about the final outcome.

Haluk Direskeneli

Haluk Direskeneli, is a graduate of METU Mechanical Engineering department (1973). He worked in public, private enterprises, USA Turkish JV companies (B&W, CSWI, AEP, Entergy), in fabrication, basic and detail design, marketing, sales and project management of thermal power plants. He is currently working as freelance consultant/ energy analyst with thermal power plants basic/ detail design software expertise for private engineering companies, investors, universities and research institutions. He is a member of Chamber of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.

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