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A massive landslide occurred at Anagold Mining’s gold mine in Turkey

Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya announced that nine workers were trapped. On the extent of the landslide, he said, “It is estimated that the total volume of the sliding mass—for the time being—is 10 million cubic metres and that this mass has moved 800 metres at a speed of 10 metres per second”. The search for workers continues with the participation of more than 800 search and rescue workers and volunteers.

If this waste soil containing toxic substances such as cyanide and sulphuric acid reaches the Euphrates River just a few hundred metres away, it could cause an environmental disaster that would last for decades in a vast area that includes war-torn Syria and Iraq as well as eastern and south-eastern Turkey.

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In its first statement on the disaster, the Ministry of Environment, Urbanisation and Climate Change said, “In order to prevent the material flowing during the landslide from reaching the Euphrates River, we had the covers of the culvert where the Sabırlı stream meets the Euphrates River closed.”

However, experts say that even if the waste soil is prevented from going directly into the Euphrates, rain and groundwater will inevitably lead to an environmental disaster because it is impossible to remove such a large amount of soil.

Food engineer and academic Dr. Bülent Şık said on X/Twitter, “This statement [of the ministry] does not reflect the truth. It is impossible to prevent the spread of chemical pollution. The increase in acidity will facilitate the dissolution of toxic elements and their contamination of ground and surface water. This is an environmental disaster that will last for decades.”

In an interview with the Gazete Duvar, Cemalettin Küçük, a metallurgical engineer, echoed Şık’s position. He said, “The waste was above the membrane. Now it has leaked out into nature below. It is also leaking underground.”

He added, “If the structure of the chemical changes with the rain, it can poison people through cyanide evaporation. You should tell the public the truth. It does not have to go into the Euphrates River. It is going into the groundwater. There would be a big disaster along the Euphrates with the groundwater.”

An official investigation launched after the disaster has led to the arrest of four managers and executives of the company. As in previous similar cases, this is an attempt to whitewash the political establishment from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the top, Murat Kurum, the former Minister of Environment, Urbanisation and Climate, and down to lower levels, as well as corporate-financial interests.

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