Authorities take concrete steps to save mucilage-covered Marmara Sea

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In line with Turkey’s comprehensive sea cleaning effort to clear up mucilage from the Marmara Sea, the Environment and Urbanization Ministry have temporarily closed a fertilizer factory in the northwestern province of Balıkesir’s Bandırma district after footage showing the factory discharging untreated wastewater into the sea went viral on social media and triggered a public outcry.

Authorities have suspended all the activities of the industrial facility for not fulfilling its legal obligations after a series of examinations conducted in line with the Marmara Sea Action Plan.

Turkish officials on June 6 announced a 22point action plan to clear a recent surge in mucilage, also known as sea snot, covering the surface of parts of the Marmara Sea in the country’s northwest.

The plan entails expanding the reuse of treated wastewater wherever possible and the application of clean production techniques.

Within the scope of the action plan, a circular was sent to all relevant directorates of provinces bordering the Marmara basin, instructing the officials to tighten inspections.

Around 450 water pollution inspections were carried out in one month in the region by 300 additional inspectors sent from the capital Ankara, imposing a total fine of 6.5 million Turkish Liras ($780,000) on facilities violating the law.

However, these measures do not seem to save the Marmara Sea in the short term considering the startling results of a study investigating the Danube River’s share of the pollution.

The pollution reaching the Black Sea from the Danube and the Marmara Sea from there is 10 times more than the urban pollution load of Istanbul, according to a study by İzzet Öztürk and Büşra Çiçekalan from Istanbul Technical University.

“The pollution from the Black Sea is 10 times more than the urban pollution load of Istanbul in terms of total organic carbon and several times more in terms of total nitrogen and phosphate parameters,” it said in the study.

The report points out that the countries along the Danube basin reduced their consumption of phosphorus and nitrogen fertilizers after the disintegration of the USSR, but the risk still persists.

Speaking to daily Milliyet, Öztürk stressed that the main sources of pollutants carried to the Marmara Sea via the Black Sea were the Danube and Dnieper rivers.

“Some 70 percent of the waste carried by these large rivers flows from the Bosphorus to the Marmara Sea,” Öztürk noted, adding that closer cooperation should be established with the Danube basin countries in order to monitor the pollution originating from the Black Sea.

Meanwhile, teams collected over 2,166 cubic meters of mucilage from the Marmara Sea over the past five days, said Murat Kurum, Turkey’s environment and urbanization minister.

Hurriyet Daily News

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