Reports of cracks appearing in the foundations of Turkey’s €18 billion Russian-made Akkuyu nuclear power plant have caused major concerns about the overall safety of the facility, located near the Turkish Mediterranean coast.

Construction of the Mersin plant began in April 2018. It is located near a fault line where the Eurasian and African tectonic plates meet, in an extremely earthquake-prone area. The project includes a plan to build four reactors with 1,200MW of capacity, two of which will be built by 2023.

According to several reports, as soon as the foundations were set, the concrete foundations of the first unit cracked, causing the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority (TAEK) to intervene and order that the foundations be relaid. New reports have emerged saying the cracks reappeared again, an asserting that TAEK denies.

Mersin’s opposition MP from the Republican Party (CHP), Alpay Antmen, has submitted a motion to parliament requesting the creation of a commission to investigate the issue, warning that an earthquake could have devastating effects. CHP’s call for a probe is not expected to pass through parliament as the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) staunchly opposes the move.

According to construction experts, cracks appear either for technical reasons, which can be fixed or because of seismic activity, which is potentially catastrophic for a nuclear power plant.

Experts worry that a major nuclear accident could take place if a major earthquake was to take place. A radioactive impact could affect an area of 20 to 30 square kilometres and, potentially, 500 square kilometres in two or three days.