[ RadSafe ] Korea city wins nuclear repository

Muckerheide, James jimm at WPI.EDU
Thu Nov 3 15:22:26 CST 2005

Friends, FYI


This just came through another list.


Regards, Jim Muckerheide





Gyeongju selected to host nuclear dump


November 04, 2005 


The government yesterday officially confirmed the city of Gyeongju as the
site of the country's first nuclear repository.


The city had the highest percentage of support for hosting the facility among
four cities that held a plebiscite on the issue Wednesday.


The National Election Commission reported a turnout of 70.8 percent in the
southeastern city, with 89.5 percent supporting the building of the low- and
intermediate-level radioactive waste repository.


The government plans to build the facility, to be located in the city's
Yangbuk region, on the coast of the East Sea, by 2008. 


Gyeongju is 371 kilometers southeast of Seoul.


The city will receive a special state subsidy of 300 billion won ($288
million), a multi-billion won sub-atomic particle accelerator and will also
become host to the headquarters of the state-run Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power
Co, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and said.


The economic windfall from the state assistance package is estimated to reach
several trillion won. 


In a news briefing to announce the selection, Minister of Commerce, Industry
and Energy Lee Hee-beom stressed that the selection was made with the
overwhelming support of local residents and in a fair and transparent manner.


"Since the site has been selected by a direct vote of the people, there
should be no moves to reject the future process," the official said. He
pledged that the repository will be built in a way that reflects top safety
and environmental standards.


The minister also said one reason why Korea's electric utilities costs have
stayed almost unchanged for the last 20 years is because of Korea's use of
atomic energy.


"The quality of electricity provided to South Korean consumers is on par with
the best, so it is a matter of necessity that the people accept nuclear waste
sites to store the by-products," he said. Mr. 


Lee said discussions on highly-radioactive waste will take place in the


Regarding benefits that the central government planned to offer to the three
cities that did not win the bid, the minister said discussions were underway
to provide assistance in the context of balanced regional development. He
declined to elaborate on details.


The local governments of Gyeongju, Pohang and Yeongdeok, all on the east
coast, and Gunsan on the west coast, had applied to host the repository,
despite protests from environmental groups.


Gunsan, a favorite before the plebiscite, reported that 84.4 percent of
voters supported the plan, more than the 79.3 percent figure for Yeongdeok.
Pohang, an industrial city that is home to POSCO, Korea's largest steel mill,
reported a turnout of 47.2 percent, with 67.5 percent supporting the bid to
host the repository.


The turnout for Gunsan, located in North Jeolla Province, stood at


70.1 percent, while that of Yeongdeok in North Gyeongsang Province reached
80.2 percent.


Under the ground rules set by the government, the region that had the most
votes in favor would be deemed the winner. However, a minimum of one-third of
all eligible voters had to vote, and more than half of them had to support
the proposal.


The government took a dim view of objections by civic groups and anti-
nuclear organizations to building a dump site in Gyeongju, which was capital
of the ancient Silla Kingdom (57 B.C.-A.D. 937) and is currently dotted with
historic monuments and cultural heritages.


"Yangbuk county on the east coast is far removed from the center of Gyeongju
city and closer to Ulsan, an industrial hub," said a government expert. He
claimed that because the site will encompass 600,000 pyeong (1.98 million
square meters) of land, including a buffer zone, the concerns are


The official added that the proposed site for the repository is adjacent to
the Wolsong Nuclear Power Plant Complex.


The selection of the site is significant since Seoul had tried since 1986 to
find a willing host for the waste dump. Every previous attempt by the
government had been foiled by resistance from residents of candidate sites. 


The waste dump was last proposed to be set up on an islet off Buan, a town on
the nation's central east coast, two years ago, only to be cancelled after
violent protests by villagers.


The central government's approach this time was to first secure majority
support from local residents via the plebiscite before moving ahead with the

The proposed repository will store low- and intermediate-level radioactive
waste from the nation's nuclear power plants, material such as gloves and
clothing as well as radioactive filters and hospital X-ray by-products, which
the government claims are relatively safe. 


Environmental groups have alleged that the voting was unfair since their
opposition was ignored by local authorities and that the press supported the
establishment of the repository. The groups said they will take the matter to
court and win an injunction to halt building of the facility.


by Yonhap  


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