Turkey's parliament approved a bill Friday allowing for the construction of nuclear power plants in the country, despite opposition from environmental groups.
Turkey first announced plans to build a reactor in 1996, but the project was put on hold because of financial problems, and the chosen location, near the Mediterranean coast, was near an earthquake-prone region.
No specific sites have been chosen, but in the past the Turkish government has approved building its first nuclear power plants in the Black Sea province of Sinop, on the northern tip of Turkey.
Local fishermen fear a plant at Sinop, with its cooling system, would raise water temperatures and harm the fish. Others were concerned that coastal residents already were affected by the nuclear accident at Chernobyl two decades ago.
Earlier this year, thousands protested in Sinop after the government announced the region was chosen as a location for the country's first nuclear reactor. Environmental groups are pressing the government to seek alternative energy sources.
The government has said it plans to build three nuclear power plants by 2015 to meet the country's growing energy needs. Turkey has limited energy resources, relying on natural gas supplies from Iran and Russia. ( AP )