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Plastic Pollution in the Southeastern Anatolia Region

Updated: Feb 22, 2023

Written by Yigit Efe Nas


The Southeastern Anatolian Region is one of the seven political regions in Turkey. Sharing borders with Syria and Iraq, it can be inferred that the region is more hectic than the other political regions. As of January 2023, the region is home to more than 8 million people with industrial development being quite behind the rest of the country.(1) In the region, the de facto poles are regarded as Gaziantep and Diyarbakir.


The Southeastern Anatolia Region depicted in red


In the region, different types of pollution exist with air being the priority of every municipality, except in Sanliurfa where water pollution is the priority.(2) This is due to the fact that the region contains some of the cities with the dirtiest air in the country, including Diyarbakir, Siirt, Batman, and Mardin.(2) It is also known that the dirty air in the region causes higher rates of deadly diseases; for example, dirty air is the prime suspect of 20.000 residents being diagnosed with lung cancer in Diyarbakir in the last decade.(3)


The extreme production and consumption of plastic products highly contribute to air and water pollution around the globe; for example, in 2019, 850 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses were released into the atmosphere by plastic products.(4) In the Southeastern Anatolia Region, the situation is the same.


Under the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP), since 1977, 22 dams have been built in the region.(5) Because of the newly built dams, the effects of plastic products have increased with people and companies illegally dumping their garbage, 60%-80% plastic, into the dams.(6) With 22 dams in 9 cities for 8 million people, the Southeastern Anatolia Region is highly affected by this situation, thus water pollution has become an important problem for the municipalities.


Another unique problem that the region faces is petroleum extraction. Out of 1.226 petroleum refineries in the country, 1.199 of them are located in the Southeastern Anatolia Region (97.79%).(8) The results of this intensive petroleum extraction are bigger landfills and increased pollution.



Landfills and Their Effects

Despite its relatively small population and underdeveloped industry compared to the rest of the country, the Southeastern Anatolia Region has some of the biggest and dirtiest landfills in Turkey with Diyarbakir, Sirnak, Sanliurfa, and Siirt coming after the likes of Istanbul and Izmir, the biggest and most populous cities in the country.(7)


In these landfills, the majority of the garbage is composed of plastic products, similar to the rest of the world.(9) In 2020, 104,8 million tonnes of waste has been generated, including plastic and other materials, of which 77,7 million tonnes have been sent to landfills and other storage facilities.(10) Moreover, 30,9 million tonnes of waste has also been classified as dangerous to human life and the environment.(10)


Another problem that the Southeastern Anatolia Region faces due to landfills is improper waste management. In these landfills, wastes are dumped with wild storage methods and some waste is burned randomly, releasing greenhouse gasses.(7)


Due to improper waste management, the liquid within the waste combines with rain waters and gets carried over to unwanted locations in the ecosystem.(11)


When all these factors, petroleum extraction, waste generation, and improper waste management, combined with other minor problems, the plastic problem of the Southeastern Anatolia Region comes alive, further culminating in air, water, and soil pollution.



Plastic Problem for Cities

Due to the aforementioned problems, plastic pollution is held in high importance for the cities in the Southeastern Anatolia Region. Below, is a map of plastic pollution priority for the cities:

  1. Dark purple indicates the first priority,

  2. Light purple indicates the second priority,

  3. Green indicates the third priority,

  4. And white indicates no priority.


The priority map of plastic wastes in the Southeastern Anatolia Region(7)


As can be seen from the map, Diyarbakir, Sanliurfa, Siirt, and Sirnak, cities with the biggest plastic pollution problems, give the highest priority to the problem. Still, only in Gaziantep and Sanliurfa, the waste is stored in an appropriate manner.(12)



Conclusion

The map of Turkey based on the air quality limits of the WHO(13)


The map shows the air quality of Turkey and the Southeastern Anatolia Region. the result of this low air quality on the people of the Southeastern Anatolia Region is higher chances of diseases or even deaths.(13)


Due to all the aforementioned issues and mistreatments, plastic pollution in the Southeastern Anatolia Region is a big problem, so much so that 8 cities see the problem as a problem to be solved. Furthermore, air pollution caused by plastic pollution in the region is kept as the first priority in 8 of 9 cities. With the addition of climate change and global warming, emigration from the region fastened in the last years, leaving the underdeveloped region even more behind.(14)



References:
  1. Sosyal Bilgiler. (n.d.). GÜNEYDOĞU ANADOLU BÖLGESİNİN EKONOMİK FAALİYETLERİ. https://www.sosyalbilgiler.org/guneydogu-anadolu-bolgesinin-ekonomik-faaliyetleri/

  2. Beste Gizem Özbey, Fatmagül Geven, Kerim Güney, & Ayşenur Kayabaş. (2017, December). Güneydoğu Anadolu Bölgesi’nin Hava Kalite Analizi (Mayıs 2016-2017). ResearchGate | Find and share research. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/321732152_Guneydogu_Anadolu_Bolgesi%27nin_Hava_Kalite_Analizi_Mayis_20162017_Air_Quality_Analysis_of_Southeastern_Anatolia_Region_May_2016-2017

  3. Orhan Kavak. (2013, April). Diyarbakır’ da Asbest Oluşumları Ve Sorunları. ResearchGate | Find and share research. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/293477152_Diyarbakir%27_da_Asbest_Olusumlari_Ve_Sorunlari

  4. Charlotte Edmond. (2022, January 19). We know plastic pollution is bad – but how exactly is it linked to climate change? World Economic Forum. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/01/plastic-pollution-climate-change-solution/

  5. T.C. GAP Bölge Kalkınma İdaresi Başkanlığı. (n.d.). gap.gov.tr. https://www.gap.gov.tr/gap-ta-son-durum-sayfa-32.html

  6. Büyük Tehlike: Plastik Çöpler! (n.d.). TÜDAV | Türk Deniz Araştırmaları Vakfı. https://tudav.org/calismalar/kirlilik/denizel-copler/buyuk-tehlike-plastik-copler/

  7. Mehmet Çekim, Sayiter Yıldız, & Turgay Dere. (n.d.). GÜNEYDOĞU ANADOLU BÖLGESİ KATI ATIK SORUNLARI VE ÇEVRESEL ETKİLERİ:ADIYAMAN İLİ ÖRNEĞİ. ISBS 2015. http://isbs2015.gazi.edu.tr/belgeler/bildiriler/761-766.pdf

  8. Alper Kaya. (2017, November 20). Türkiye'de petrol Çıkarılan Yerler ve Rafineriler » TechWorm. TechWorm. https://www.tech-worm.com/turkiyede-petrol-cikarilan-yerler-rafineriler/

  9. DÜNYA VE TÜRKİYE PLASTİK AMBALAJ MALZEMELERİ SEKTÖR RAPORU. (2016). PAGEV - Anasayfa. https://pagev.org/upload/files/Hammadde%20Yeni%20Tebli%C4%9F%20Bilg.%203/D%C3%BCnya%20ve%20T%C3%BCrkiye%20Plastik%20Ambalaj%20Malzemeleri%20Sekt%C3%B6r%20Raporu%202016.pdf

  10. TÜİK Kurumsal. (2021, December 23). TÜİK - Veri Portalı. https://data.tuik.gov.tr/Bulten/Index?p=Atik-Istatistikleri-2020-37198

  11. Durak, Z., “Adana Sofulu Düzensiz Çöp Depolama Alanında Oluşan Çöp Sızıntı Sularının Bitki Yetiştirilmesinde Kullanılması”, Yüksek Lisans Tezi, Çukurova Üniversitesi, Fen Bilimleri Enstitüsü, Çevre Mühendisliği Anabilim Dalı, Adana, Türkiye, 76s (2012). (Danışman: Z. Zaimoğlu)

  12. Şanlıurfa 2012 Yılı İl Çevre Durum Raporu, Şanlıurfa Valiliği Çevre ve Şehircilik İl Müdürlüğü, Şanlıurfa, 97s (2012).

  13. TMMOB, hava kirliliğinin en yüksek olduğu illeri açıkladı. (2018, January 5). birgun.net. https://www.birgun.net/haber/tmmob-hava-kirliliginin-en-yuksek-oldugu-illeri-acikladi-198682

  14. Rüstem ERKAN, & Deniz AYDIN. (n.d.). Güneydoğu Anadolu Bölgesi İllerinde Bölge İçi ve Bölge Dışı Göç Eğilimleri. Ana Sayfa » DergiPark. https://dergipark.org.tr/tr/download/article-file/197941

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