Turkish parliament OKs nuclear construction

ANKARA, TURKEY - Turkey's parliament approved a bill allowing for the construction of nuclear power plants in the country, despite opposition from environmental groups.

The measure — setting out the legal framework for the plants and the sale of the energy they produce — was first passed in parliament earlier this year, but was blocked by then President Ahmet Necdet Sezer.

Legislators re-approved the bill, overriding Sezer's veto.

The government has said it plans to build three nuclear power plants by 2015 to meet the country's growing energy needs. Turkey has limited energy resources, relying on natural gas supplies from Iran and Russia.

Earlier this year, thousands held protests in the Black Sea coastal city of Sinop after the government announced the region was chosen as a location for the country's first nuclear reactor. Environmental groups are pressing the government to seek alternative energy sources.

The bill allows the government to launch tenders for the construction of the plants, establish a state company to run the plants and to allocate shares to private sector companies.

The measure will come into effect after approval by current President Abdullah Gul, who replaced Sezer in August.

Turkey first announced plans to build a reactor in 1996, but the project was put on hold because of financial problems and the chosen location, near the Mediterranean coast, was close to an earthquake-prone region.


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