Comments from the Turkish minister for environment and urbanisation highlight potential added capacity allowing transit for an additional 160 vessels per day in the Istanbul Canal (Kanal İstanbul) project
Turkey’s Minister of Environment and Urbanisation Murat Kurum said that studies on the potential impact of the project on the environment were nearing completion and that the project was being carried out with the highest-level environmental sensitivity.
The proposal to build the Istanbul Canal waterway has attracted criticism amid fears that it could adversely affect the environment and displace thousands of people.
Mr Kurum said "We see Canal Istanbul as a very important project for the future of our country with its coastal structures, marinas, container ports and logistics centres," adding "the Bosphorus [coasts] will certainly not to be opened for construction. Its historical, natural fabric will be preserved."The canal will be an artificial sea-level waterway that will connect the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara and the Mediterranean. When complete it would turn Istanbul’s western side into an artificial Island.
The canal will run from the Durusu region on Istanbul’s Black Sea coast to Kucukcekmece Lake on the Sea of Marmara. Reportedly, documents from Turkey’s Environment Ministry showed the canal would be 25 m deep and 250-1,000 m wide when complete, subject to dock locations.
The Bosphorus is one of the most crowded waterways in the world with 42,000 vessels passing through in 2016, dwarfing the 16,800 vessels that passed through the Suez Canal the same year.
Turkey has stated that the mega project, which will cost up to USD$10Bn, partly has the objective of eliminating the rising risk posed by ships carrying dangerous goods through the Bosphorus.
The sheer density of shipping traffic through the Bosphorus and navigational problems including sharp turns mean that the strait has been the site of several accidents and oil spills. Six major accidents have caused the deaths 100 people and the leakage of 108,000 tons of oil in since 1960s.
The 45-kilometer (nearly 28-mile) canal will be built west of the city centre on the European side of the Istanbul isthmus.
The Turkish government says the planned canal is meant to provide relief to shipping traffic between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara, particularly oil tanker traffic, through the Bosphorus.
Mr Kurum said "With Canal Istanbul, we will take the burden of the Bosphorus and hand down it to the next generations in a better way."
The Turkish government intends for the project to be completed by 2023 as part of the 100th anniversary the foundation of the modern Turkish republic.