Telephone engineer Yilmaz Hakal remembers as a child catching fish as big as his forearm from the river running through Dilovasi, a town on the Asian coast of the Sea of Marmara. But these days, not much flows under the arches of its fine Ottoman bridge apart from garbage, rafts of white foam and the toxic runoff from factories.
The community of around 45,000 hosts more than 150 industrial firms -- mainly polluting, heavy industries, including paint and petrochemical manufacturers. There are also smelters that handle scrap metal from ships and military equipment. “There is nothing here but cancer, earthquakes, and dirt -- that’s all we have,” said Tahsin Karadag, a 66-year-old retired metalworker who has lived in the town for more than 25 years.
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Alexander Christie-Miller is a freelance journalist based in Istanbul, where he writes for The Times. Jonathan Lewis is a freelance photojournalist based in Istanbul.