Since the 1980s, the uncontrolled spread of manufacturing industries in the tiny town of Dilovası has caused significant public health and environmental problems. Cancer rates are high and breathing problems endemic. Even the local sheep get sick. Yet thousands of companies continue operate in and profit from this region.
Around 15 percent of the factories are owned by brand name companies from the EU, mostly Germany, France, and the Netherlands.
The locals say that industry operates with impunity. The Turkish state has known about the devastating health and ecological effects for decades; and the country's parliamentary commission branded Dilovası a "public health disaster zone" in 2007.
But instead of defending the locals, the state chooses to further attract investment to the area by offering generous incentives to foreign and domestic companies. Even the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, owned and financed by EU member states, provides hundreds of millions in financing to new and existing foreign companies that produce there.
The Black Sea visited the town on several occasions over the past eight months, to document the daily lives of locals, hear their stories, and see the effects of industry run amok. Many were warm and welcoming; others mistrustful and wary of strangers. But each had a story to tell, much like the factories and foundries that surround them.
More than anywhere else in Turkey, the town of Dilovası, and the wider Kocaeli region, is the scene of the inherent conflict between power, profits, and human rights.