On International Women’s Day, AKKUYU NUKLEAR JSC organized a meeting of women working in leading media in Mersin province and women involved in Turkey’s first nuclear power plant construction project, Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, the meeting was held in compliance with epidemiological safety and social distancing rules.
The meeting was attended by Kübra Şengül, Specialist of the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources of Turkey; Natalia Konovalova, Head of AKKUYU NUKLEAR JSC CEO Administration; Aslihan Polat, Expert of the Claims Department of the Legal and Corporate Directorate of AKKUYU NUKLEAR JSC; Emine Tellioğlu, Radiometry Specialist of the SNF and RAW Management Workshop of AKKUYU NUKLEAR JSC; and Ayşe Nur Bal, Occupational Health and Safety Expert of IC TSM Treysan. The event was moderated by Nesrin Sevimli, Member of NÜKAD (Women In Nuclear Global) and Nuclear Industry Association (NIATR) Board Member.
During the meeting, employees of AKKUYU NUKLEAR JSC and the representative of the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources of Turkey spoke about their experiences in the nuclear industry and shared inspiring success stories.
Natalia Konovalova, Head of AKKUYU NUKLEAR JSC CEO Administration, who has over twenty years of experience in the industry, talked about the role of women in the nuclear power industry: “In my opinion, women contribute as much as men to the development of the industry. The fact that our CEO is a woman is a vivid example of this. This is her energy and commitment that drive the construction of our unique facility, Akkuyu NPP, the first nuclear power plant in the Republic of Turkey. Attitude towards nuclear power, of course, directly depends on the level of actual knowledge, rather than various rumours and speculations. It’s worth thinking about the way the commissioning of a nuclear power plant will affect the life of your region, benefits that will be available to your families, and a new quality of life for you. For example, heating houses with coal or wood results in gas pollution, emissions into the atmosphere and, as a consequence, severe lung diseases. In contrast, nuclear technology provides sources of energy that do not pollute the environment.”
Aslihan Polat, Expert of the Claims Department of the Legal and Corporate Department of AKKUYU NUKLEAR JSC, and Ayşe Nur Bal, Occupational Health and Safety Expert, spoke about their impressions of working as part of the project. Aslihan Polat: “I have been working at AKKUYU NUKLEAR JSC since 2017, and my dedication to the Akkuyu NPP project has only grown over time. To be at the very heart of the project and see with my own eyes the first ever nuclear power plant being constructed, in 2020 I moved with my family to Silifke, the region where the plant is being constructed, and started working at the Akkuyu site. I’ve learnt a lot of things here that I would never have learnt if I had continued working in a private legal company. The project has had a dramatic impact on me both professionally and culturally. It’s an incredible feeling to work side by side with citizens of another country for a common goal.”
Ayşe Nur Bal, Occupational Health and Safety Expert: “I have to admit that being a female worker at the first nuclear power plant construction project in our country is not that easy, but it is a great honour and the strongest source of inspiration for me. Contrary to popular belief, nuclear power plants are much less damaging to the environment than fuel-burning power sources. In my opinion, women are more curious, they are always eager to learn about the world around them, they are good learners, and they are willing to share their experience with others. This suggests a higher level of trust in women in general, so we have a special role – we can prove and convince others by our own example that nuclear power is safe.”
Emine Tellioğlu, a graduate of National Research Nuclear University MEPHI and participant of the target training program for operating personnel at Akkuyu NPP, said: “I am very proud to be part of this project, especially because I am a female engineer. I think it’s time to dispel a myth that women have difficulties in mastering technical trades. The common objective of our team, whether you are a woman or a man, is to work hard and contribute to the development of the project. Gender doesn’t matter. The important thing is that we all work together to ensure energy security of Turkey and make our country technologically competitive compared to other developed countries. The Akkuyu NPP project provides a high level of employment for people living in the region and stimulates development in many spheres: we can build roads, open schools, hospitals and restaurants.”
As part of the discussion, the speakers talked with journalists and answered their questions. The session ended with taking photos and giving flowers to all women present in the hall on the occasion of International Women’s Day.